Brave Bessie Ruled the Sky

Bessie Coleman with her planeBessie Coleman is also know as Queen Bess and Brave Bessie. She was the first African American woman to fly an airplane and the first African American to earn an international pilot’s license. 

In the early 1920s Coleman was determined to learn to fly. She had heard stories of women who had flown for France in World War I and she wanted to be a pilot. Flying schools in the United States did not accept her so she went to school to learn French and applied and was accepted to a French flying school. 

Bessie ColemanAfter she received her license, she returned to the United States to participate in exhibition flying. She realized she would need more training for this type of flying.  Coleman was rejected again by U.S. flying schools so she returned to Europe to get advance training. She returned to the U.S. to star in flying exhibitions around the country. 

Coleman died in a plane crash 1926, but she inspired countless African American women to pursue their dreams. Bessie Coleman had to fight social, racial and gender biases to become a pilot. She refused to take no for an answer.  

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Michelle Morris

I am in the Public Services department, which means you can catch me at the Red Carpet desk, the Topeka Room, or any of the Reference desks. I graduated with my bachelors in Sociology, which makes the library the perfect place for my love of people watching. I am a believer in public libraries and love that I get to share my passion for reading with people daily.