For day 7 of our Women’s History Month celebration, we recognize: Bessie Coleman!
Bessie Coleman (Jan. 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was the first woman of African American and Native American descent to receive a pilot’s license. Often called “Queen Bess,” Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas on January 26, 1892, to Susan Coleman, an African American maid, and George Coleman, an African American and Native American sharecropper. At the age of 23, Coleman went to Chicago and attended the Burnham School of Beauty Culture to become a manicurist, but she ultimately left the school to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. After being denied acceptance into flight schools across the country due to discrimination, Coleman began to learn French and decided to move to France upon the advice of The Chicago Defender newspaper publisher, Robert Abbott. In France, Coleman attended the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in Le Crotoy. On June 15, 1921, Coleman received her international pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, becoming the first African American and Native American woman to receive a pilot’s license.