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Bessie Coleman (Fly Girl) Unchained Hearts Series – Black History Month Profiles February 12, 2013

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 Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman

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Bessie Coleman (Fly Girl)

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By: Bobbie Jones

 B Coleman 2 She had her sights set on the skies but first she had to escape the mindsets of too many individuals who felt that her role in life was limited to only a few things but she was determined to prove them all wrong and she did. She became the first African American female to secure her pilot’s license and once she had that license in hand she went on to perform in Air Shows to entertain the world but most of all she made African American people proud.

 

            Bessie Coleman was born January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, TX. And she was the 10th child out of 13 children born to Susan and George Coleman.  Bessie had one strong and rich heritage with her father being African American and Cherokee Indian.  She had the blood of strong and proud people running BH Bessie 2through her veins.  Growing up as a young child it was quickly noted that Bessie was good in math so instead of working in the cotton fields all day she was sent to school.  A natural in her gifts and talents by the time Bessie was 8 yeas of age she was already the family’s book keeper.

            Bessie’s math skills would later serve her well as she would need them to read and decipher the instrument panels in her planes. And those skills would carry her far throughout her career.

College Bound

            After Bessie’s days in her one room school house she was ready to take off and see the world, even if she was only going as far as Oklahoma.  Bessie attended Normal University (A Teacher’s College) in Langston, Oklahoma.  She was a hard working and determined student but college cost money and she had only managed to save enough for one term – so it was back home she went to plot her next move.

Planning to Pilot

            1917  Believe it or not but Bessie got the idea of heading off to France from her Brother who was a Vet of  WWI.  He bragged about how French women could fly their own planes and after hearing that the dream was on for Bessie.    Unable to secure the education and training it would take to fly in America Bessie had to devise her plan.  Due to the unrelenting and unforgiving racism that plagued America in the 1920’s Bessie knew she had to get as far away from America if only for a little while to live out her dream.  Bessie’s only hope was to get across the Atlantic to Paris, France where she could prepare to be a Pilot.

            In the fall of 1920 Bessie left for Paris France after she had received backing from Robert Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender to attend and aviation school in France.  And for those of you out there that think learning a new language is hard how hard do you think it would be to do that and learn how to fly a plane all within a span of nine months?  Well, Bessie did that and then some by the time June 15, 1921 rolled around Bessie had received her pilot’s license from the renowned Federation Aeronautique Internationale.  Making her the first licensed African American Pilot in the United States once she returned to the US.

The Performing Pilot

BH Bessie 3Bessie’s dream was to fly planes and entertain the masses and she did just that.  Organizing flight shows and exhibitions all of the United States and she also wanted to share her life experiences with young people so by the time she showed up in Hollywood, CA. to make movies she also made it her mission to speak to young people at the YMCA.  She gave a series of lectures designed to keep young people focused and on the path toB Coleman 4 their greatest potential.

            Although, Bessie’s life was cut short due to a tragic plan accident in the spring of 1926 those that loved Bessie and championed her cause did not let her dream die.  In 1929 Lt. William J. Powell founded the Bessie Coleman Aero Club the aviation school she’d longed to establish in Los Angeles.  In 1931 the Challenger Pilots’ Association of Chicago did their first annual flyover above Lincoln Cemetery, in honor of Bessie Coleman. 

            It may have been tough and it may have been a struggle but for Bessie living out her dream no matter what the cost not only saw her through but inspired countless others to do the same and for that we thank you so much  – Ms. Bessie Coleman.

A Bobbiegirl Ad 

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Photos provided by:  Google Images on the Web

Videos provided by:  You Tube

Smart Women, Embrace – provided by: Ms. Bobbie Jones/via You Tube

Copyright © Ms. Bobbie Jones – January 12, 2013

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