Bessie Coleman


Women's History Month - March 12th

Bessie Coleman took women to new heights in 1921--literally. After learning about pilots in World War I, she became interested in aviation and becoming a pilot herself. When American flight schools denied Coleman from earning her pilot’s license because of her race and gender, she did not give up on her dream. Using her earnings as a manicurist and manager of a chili parlor with some additional support, Coleman decided to attend a French aviation school. Bessie Coleman learned French and completed a traditionally 10 month program at Ecole d’Aviation des Freres Caudon in only 7 months. In June 1921, Coleman received her license from the prestigious Federation Aeronautique Internationale, becoming the first African American to earn an international pilot’s license in the world. Upon her return to the United States, Coleman continued to be a civil rights advocate. After her tragic death in an airborne accident in 1926, the Bessie Coleman Aero Club was established in Los Angeles in 1929. Bessie Coleman is still remembered as a pioneer in aviation today.