Celebrating Black Heroes: Bessie Coleman

(1892-1926)

We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to Bessie Coleman, who was raised in Waxahachie, TX. She excelled in school and had a proclivity in mathematics. Therefore, Coleman avoided working in the cotton fields.

She excelled in school and had a proclivity in mathematics.

At 23, she moved to Chicago and made her living as a beautician. She became interested in the field of aviation and dreamed of flying. However, discrimination prevented her to enter aviation school. She did not stop her pursuit. Instead, she learned French and in 1920, was accepted at the Caudron Brothers School of Aviation in Le Crotoy, France. 

On June 15, 1921, she became the first black person to gain an international pilot’s license, and the first black woman and Native American to hold a pilot’s license. Coleman returned to the United States, where the double stigma of racial and gender biases prevented her becoming a commercial pilot. Therefore, she specialized in stunt flying and parachuting because those were her only career options.

She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting because those were her only career options.

In 2007, the city of Waxahachie unveiled the Bessie Coleman official Texas historical marker at Freedman Memorial Plaza, and Mayor David Hill declared Tuesday, January 26, 2021 as Bessie Coleman Day in the city of Waxahachie.

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