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Little Known Facts in Black History: Bessie Coleman

16 February 2021 |

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman, and also the first Native-American, to hold a pilot license. She earned her pilot license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first black person to earn an international pilot's license. At the age of 12, Bessie was accepted into the Missionary Baptist Church School on scholarship. When she turned eighteen, she took her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Langston, Oklahoma (now called Langston University). She completed one term before her money ran out and she returned home. African-Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States, so she saved up money and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight school. She then became a high-profile pilot in notoriously dangerous air shows in the United States. She was popularly known as Queen Bess and Brave Bessie, and she hoped to start a school for African-American fliers. Coleman died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing a new aircraft. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to the African-American and Native-American communities. #BlackHistory #BlackHistoryIsHistory

 

–Earl Greene, MA, CAMS-1/Fellow, ACT Certified Trainer
Director of Family Engagement and Equity

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