Bessie Coleman

First African-American woman to hold a pilot license

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was born in Texas on January 26th, 1892. Bessie loved school; although the one-room schoolhouse was limited to the 8th grade, Bessie excelled in Math and Reading.

At the age of 23, Bessie moved to Chicago to live with two of her older brothers, in hopes of a better life. Shortly after moving, soldiers returned from World War I with wild stories of flying which sparked Coleman’s interest in aviation. After visiting many aviation schools, Coleman had no luck  finding someone to teach her aviation in the U.S because of her race and gender. Thankfully, local African American leaders in Chicago helped Coleman move to France, who were the world’s leaders in aviation and allowed all women a chance to gain their aviation license.

Bessie Coleman was awarded her International Pilot’s license in June 1921, making her the first African American person in the world to become a licensed pilot.

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