(A republished article from sometime in 2019)
So today I’m going to talk about Bessie Coleman. Everyone knows about Amelia Earhart and she’s cool and everything but not many know who Bessie Coleman is! Which really is saddening. We have so many forgotten or overlooked people in history. Bessie is one of them.
So who is she? She was an African American and Native American woman who was born January 26th 1892 in Atlanta, Tx. She became a manicurist for the upper class black Americans. From what I know while she was working she came across “The Chicago Defender” newspaper (founded by Robert S. Abbot in 1905. For African American readers during the Jim Crow law era). Bessie was inspired to want to fly - by reading about WW1 in “The Chicago Defender.” She had been saving money to go apply to pilot schools. But because she was black and native and a woman- she had no success in America. Not like Amelia Earhart who was able to find her way into pilot school in the United States. Most African Americans had to travel to another country to get a degree or do something.
Anyways, so Bessie was rejected from so many schools and ended up meeting Robert S. Abbot. She told Abbot she wasn’t having any luck getting into any of the schools. He basically told her that if she went to France he would sponoser her. Meaning he would pay for her to get there and her schooling. So Bessie set off to Le Crotoy, France and attended Caudron brothers school of aviation and there she got her pilot license in seven months! Also Amelia and Bessie got their pilot licenses around the same time. Fun fact: Bessie was the first woman to get an international pilot license, Earhart didn’t have that! She also spent time teaching women to fly. In February 1923 in Los Angeles Bessie was in a plane crash and broke her leg and three ribs- after being hospitalized for three months, she went straight back to flying. She never gave up and was very daring.
Bessie flew all around the world and set an example to black and native woman in her time that they can accomplish things despite being a woman of color. I think Bessie was amazing for her time and deserves more credit then she is given! She passed away in 1926 at the age of 34 after flying her new plane.
The air is the only place free from Prejudice- Bessie Coleman
Rest In Peace Bessie: 01/26/1892-04/30/1926
It is so important to try and restore history and remind others of those who were swept under the rug! My being Native American this means a lot for me to share with others! As well as Black Americans (not all Americans are African). This is dedicated to all the little girls and women who haven‘t been given the opportunity to know women in history that are just like them. You can do anything girl! 🙏🏽