Bessie Coleman was born January 26, 1892, in Atlanta, Texas. She was one of 13 children born to Susan and George Coleman who were both sharecroppers. When Coleman was just a child, her father set out for Oklahoma in search of better opportunities, leaving his wife Susan to raise all 13 children alone. In order to assist the household, all of the Coleman children began working as soon as they were old enough.
At the age of 12, Coleman enrolled in classes at the Missionary Baptist Church in Texas. Once she graduated, she then enrolled in courses at the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (a.k.a Langston University) in Oklahoma. She was only able to complete one term before experiencing financial complications which prevented her education.
In 1915, 23-year-old Coleman moved to Chicago, Illinois. She lived with her brothers and worked as a manicurist. It was there in Chicago that she began studying the stories of World War I (WWI) pilots. These stories piqued her interest in aviation.
Coleman was so inspired by the war stories of the WWI pilots that she decided to pursue aviation. A victim of racism and sexism, she was denied entrance into flight schools in the U.S. She then decided to move to France in the early 1920s where after several months, she earned her license from the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation.
In 1922, Coleman became the first Black woman aviator. Her initial goal thereafter was to fly for Black folk in the U.S. However, she began her aviation career with stunt flying and parachuting. Later in 1922, she became the first Black woman in America to make a public flight.
As Coleman rehearsed for an aerial show, a malfunction caused her airplane to crash. Bessie Coleman tragically died as a result of her accident on April 30, 1926. She was only 34 years old. To this day, Coleman serves as a role model to young Black women and to all who draw strength from her courage and determination.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**Thank you all for reading my article. I’m a part of the largest online marketplace for Black-owned businesses called We Buy Black. Similar to Etsy or Amazon, this website allows for Black-owned businesses to create a shop and sell their amazing products to the world! If you have a product, you should definitely join this platform! We Buy Black also has it’s Inaugural We Buy Black Convention happening this November 16th-17th in Atlanta, GA and I hope to see you all there. In fact, I along with hundreds of others will be wearing our official We Buy Black T-shirt, so here’s my gift to you: Get 50% off the official WBB T-shirt using my code WBB2018. Peace, family!