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Bessie Coleman

Updated on March 19, 2014

I took my dad to the Wright Brother's Museum in Kiity Hawk, North Carolina. I wouldn't have gone on my own. I'm not that interested. But Dad is, and I will be forever grateful to him for giving me the reason to go. Don't miss it if you are ever in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I was totally surprised by my reaction to the display of firsts and greats in aviation. The first parashooter. The first woman parashooter, the first this and that. I had such an emotional reaction. My eyes welled, my heart reacted. It was a simple display, but the pictures of amazing people who had had a passion and found a way to the passion was so moving.

And of course one of those was Bessie Coleman the first Black Woman Aviator, and one of the most famous of her day. Bessie Coleman was the 1o of a sharecroppers family of 13 children. Her father left them all when she was very young. Yet she managed to go to college for a semester before she ran out of money, get to Europe, learn to fly and support herself with her passion.

Bessie Coleman

"The air is the only place free from prejudices"

Three reasons to love Bessie Coleman

1. Bessie Coleman came from poverty, grew up in world of racism and sexism, yet insisted on 'following her bliss, her passion' and didn't take no for an answer.

2. Bessie Smith didn't forget others. After making a name as a pilot, or aviatirx as it was called then, she started a school to teach other black women to fly.

3. Bessie Smith was an entertainer and an astute business woman who loved life and lived it to the nth degree. In an age when both women and blacks were invisible she was known through out world. Her obituary made the front page headlines in major papers

Bessie Smith, Nobody Owns the Sky

Quick, what do you think of Bessie Coleman?

See results

How Bessie Coleman Got There

"I refused to take no for an answer"

Bessie Coleman Honored With a Stamp

Bessie Coleman Honored With a Stamp
Bessie Coleman Honored With a Stamp

Bessie Coleman Gives Back

"I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly"

Bessie Coleman Colors the Skies

Bessie Coleman Colors the Skies
Bessie Coleman Colors the Skies

Bessie Coleman Meets Amelia Earhart

Talk about leaving them begging for more, I really want to see more of this!

Bessie Coleman's Last Risk

Bessie Coleman's Last Risk
Bessie Coleman's Last Risk

A report on Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman Had to Go to France to Learn to Fly

Bessie Coleman Had to Go to France to Learn to Fly
Bessie Coleman Had to Go to France to Learn to Fly

Any Purchase Here Will Contribute to Heifer International: The Pay It Forward Entrepreneurial Charity

Lots of Books About Bessie Coleman

Many of them are for children and I can't think of a better role model for kids of any flavor.

Bessie Coleman: Daring Stunt Pilot (Graphic Biographies)
Bessie Coleman: Daring Stunt Pilot (Graphic Biographies)

In graphic novel format, tells the story of Bessie Coleman, the daring stunt pilot.

 
Fly High! The Story Of Bessie Coleman
Fly High! The Story Of Bessie Coleman

Besse Coleman was born in rural Texas in 1892. She loved school, especially learning about numbers, and she was a good reader, too. Yet when it was time to pick cotton she had to work in the fields instead of going to school. Nevertheless, she was determined to be somebody when she grew up. In her early twenties, Bessie moved to Chicago. Perhaps there she could "find a bigger life." In the city, Bessie heard many tales of World War I from returned veterans. She also heard there were woman airplane pilots in France. From then on, she was determined to become a pilot. But she soon found out that no one would teach a woman -- especially a woman with dark skin -- how to fly. To study in France was her only chance, and by working hard and saving her money, she managed at last to get there. Bessie Coleman became the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. She was somebody. The inspiring story of her difficult early years, her success as a stunt pilot putting on daring air shows in many states, and her dedication to telling young African-Americans wherever she went, "You can be somebody. You can fly high just like me," is as moving and important today as it was then. Simply told with evocative full-color illustrations, this is a special book for today's young people.

 
BESSIE COLEMAN ~ BLACK HERITAGE ~ AVIATOR ~ QUEEN BESS #2956 Plate Block of 4 x 32¢ US Postage Stamps
BESSIE COLEMAN ~ BLACK HERITAGE ~ AVIATOR ~ QUEEN BESS #2956 Plate Block of 4 x 32¢ US Postage Stamps

In 1995 the USPS issued the 18th stamp in the Black Heritage series, this commemorative features Bessie Coleman, or "Queen Bess," as she came to be known, in her leather flight cap and goggles. Coleman was the first African-American female aviator. Born in a one-room cabin, she achieved her dream of becoming a pilot during a time when most African-Americans would not have even considered learning to fly. Coleman was killed on April 30, 1926, when the controls failed on the airplane in which she was a passenger.

 
Fly, Bessie, Fly
Fly, Bessie, Fly

Far away, far away, Up past the clouds. High away, fly away, And never come down. More than anything, Bessie Coleman wants to fly. As a small child working in a Waxahachie, Texas, cotton field, she likes to imagine she's a bird, getting ready to spread her wings and fly away. Then, when Bessie learns about the black fighter pilots of World War I, she gets the idea that maybe she really can fly. But no one in the United States will teach her how to fly a plane because she's black and a woman. So Bessie goes to France, where she becomes the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot's license -- and where she finally has the chance to soar with the birds. In lyrical prose, Lynn Joseph tells the inspirational true story of aviator Bessie Coleman. Yvonne Buchanan's buoyant watercolor paintings remind us that sometimes even seemingly unattainable dreams are within our reach.

 
Bessie Coleman: Daring to Fly (On My Own Biography)
Bessie Coleman: Daring to Fly (On My Own Biography)

Describes the life and accomplishments of Bessie Coleman, who overcame racism and poverty to become the first African American woman pilot.

 
Bessie Coleman (First Biographies - Trailblazers and Legends)
Bessie Coleman (First Biographies - Trailblazers and Legends)

Text and photographs present the life of Bessie Coleman and how she became the first African American women to earn a pilot's license.

 
Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman
Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of "Brave Bessie" Coleman

As a young woman in the 1920s, Bessie Coleman's chances of becoming a pilot were slim. But she never let her dream die and became the first licensed African-American aviator. In "Nobody Owns the Sky", Reeve Lindbergh honors Coleman's memory with a poem that sings of her accomplishment. Full color Ages 6-9. Pub: 1/98. .

 
She Dared to Fly: Bessie Coleman (Benchmark Biographies)
She Dared to Fly: Bessie Coleman (Benchmark Biographies)

A biography of the woman who became the first licensed Afro-American pilot.

 
Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman

In 1921 few people knew how to fly a plane. That year, Bessie Coleman became the first African-American woman to earn an international pilot's license.

 

Bessie Coleman the Doll

Bessie Coleman the Doll
Bessie Coleman the Doll

Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...

Shout Out For Bessie Coleman!

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    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image
      Author

      MargoPArrowsmith 4 years ago

      @VspaBotanicals: So glad. It was meaningful to me.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      I am absolutely blown away by this lens. You did a wonderful trubute to Bessie!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      Such a lovely tribute to a great woman. Angel blessed.

    • Richardryder profile image

      Risteard O'Marcahain 5 years ago from Wales

      This is a great inspiration

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens.............

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning and am honored to bless Bessie Coleman once again!

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      wow. 13 kids, dad left, and she still got to some college, then followed her dreams. inspirational.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Really fascinating woman. I loved learning about her. Thanks! Very inspirational.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      great lens. Squid angel blessed 4-1-11

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens about an amazing woman

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      How sad that Bessie Coleman died so young. My parents have been to the Wright Brother's Museum a couple of times. My dad absolutely raves about it. Thanks for sharing Bessie's story. She's still inspiring!

    • jvsper63 profile image

      jvsper63 6 years ago

      You explained Bessie Coleman well. She is a true hero..Great lens topic;)

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      What a fantastic woman!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A true hero for every woman who walks this earth and is free to choose what she wants and what she will be. What a great lens Margo!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I can see why your eyes welled up when you heard about Bessie Coleman- same for me reading your lens about her. Awesome.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm glad to see there are some books about her life. As a pioneering aviatrix, she deserves spotlighting. It's amazing what some women were able to do back in "the old days."

    • MichelleLacroix profile image

      Michelle Lacroix Toro 6 years ago from United States

      Wow! The things you learn inside of Squidoo! I'd never heard of Bessie Coleman, but now I'll never forget. Thank you.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Wow! This is dramatic and an excellent winner of LotD. I absolutely love your first person presentation.

    • beerhead profile image

      beerhead 6 years ago

      Great lens and congrats on the purple star.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Well done on the Purple Star

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Wonerful

      Lensrolled to my unsung heroes

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 6 years ago from Lancaster PA

      I enjoyed learning about Bessie Coleman! Thank you! and ****Blessed^^^^

    • profile image

      7Suze7 6 years ago

      I had no idea

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very inspiring, nice work :). Thanks for visiting my lens and liking it.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      True confessions, been to the Outer Banks and loved it there yet missed this story about Bessie Coleman ...shame on me and kudos to you for the education. well DONE!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I just lensrolled this wonderful Bessie Coleman tribute to my new African American Coloring Pages & Books.nnThanks Margo!

    • Bus Stop Toy Shop profile image

      Bus Stop Toy Shop 6 years ago

      I have to confess my ignorance - I'd never heard of Bessie Coleman until now - interesting and inspiring story!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thanks for an interesting lens. I too was in the OuterBanks and we stopped at the Wright Memorial as an afterthought. We were just going to stop for a few minutes and take a photo of the monument...we ended up getting out...seeing the movie and displays and spending 2 hours there. A very interesting place! Blessed.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Wonderful woman with great inspiration for others. Featured this on Jessica Watson, another pioneer. Well done.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great inspiring story of someone I had never heard of. These are the types of stories that change lives showing how people of heart and courage can do so much in spite of the difficulties of the day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great inspiring story of someone I had never heard of. These are the types of stories that change lives showing how people of heart and courage can do so much in spite of the difficulties of the day.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 6 years ago from London, England

      I didn't know much about Bessie Coleman, although I had heard of her. Very interesting lens. The Wright Brother's Museum sounds worth a visit too.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 6 years ago from USA

      I've always admired pilots, and the lady aviators in the early days of flight really excelled in their craft. Thank you for this informative composition on one of the best aviators of the day.

    • JetAviator7 LM profile image

      John M. White 7 years ago from Michigan

      I wrote an article about Bessie Coleman in my monthly newsletter All Things Aviation back in April. She is a fascinating woman who broke the glass barrier in aviation not just for women, bur also for African Americans.

      Very nice lens!

      JetAviator7

      All Things Aviation

    • profile image

      JewelRiver 7 years ago

      Great lens topic and i love your module titles 5 stars

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Bessie Coleman was quite the gal! :) - Nice lens my dear!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 8 years ago from California

      Wonderful lens. I had never heard of Bessie before this lens. Thanks for letting me know about this daring woman. Bear hugs, Frankster aka Bearmeister

    • julcal profile image

      julcal 8 years ago

      I adore this lens! The pictures are fabulous. You dug up so much on this not so well know person - and it's so pretty to look at - videos, cartoons, coins, newspaper articles. I love them all. What a woman! GREAT big 5* and a FAV !

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

      This rocks! Bessie was special..so special. Overcame much, even the ridicule of her own brother to go and do what she did.

      Thanks Margo!