Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn a pilot’s license in the U.S. Born in 1892, Coleman lived in Atlanta and Waxahachie, Texas. After World War I, her brothers came back with stories of pilots, and they teased her as women in France could fly but Coleman couldn’t in the US. The stories her brothers told her made her want to become a pilot. No flight school would take her in US due to her being both a woman and an African American. So, she was advised to apply to flight schools in France. She learned French through night schools, accepted to a flight school in France, and received her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921.

When she came back to the US, she began to give speeches and sold tickets of films of her air tricks. Coleman was the first African American woman to have a public flight in 1922. She became famous throughout America and Europe and was known for taking a stand against segregation as she would only perform at venues that had one gate for everyone to enter. In 1926, Bessie Coleman passed away during a test flight. She is honored for her contributions through aviation clubs named in her honor and the Challenger Pilots’ Association of Chicago flying over her grave every year.