You Know Amelia Earhart, but do You Know Bessie Coleman?

Today, Google has a lovely logo cartoon inspired by Amelia Earhart. It is on display to celebrate the 115th anniversary of her birth. You can have a look here:
http://www.google.com/doodles/amelia-earharts-115th-birthday

I’ve always been fascinated with the story of Amelia Earhart, as an early, very bold, female pilot, so I started clicking through some of the recent articles about her. During this process, I came across a page about Bessie Coleman. I was struck by this antique photo of a young African American woman in pilot gear, and I had to learn more. Her story is entirely new to me.

Bessie Coleman.

Bessie Coleman. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

This young woman, who was apparently a sharecropper’s daughter, one of thirteen children, African American, and a contemporary of Amelia Earhart. As much as Ms. Earhart has always seemed an admirable figure for her boldness and bravery, Ms. Coleman is more impressive in certain ways. She was the first African American woman to receive a domestic pilot’s license, and the first African American, period, to receive an international pilot’s license. She didn’t set as many records as Amelia, but was well known, and made her living as a stunt pilot. How have I never heard of this woman, growing up post-black-history-month, and post-women’s-history month?

Educators, let your students know about Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman. Inspire your male and female students. Inspire those who have curiosity, and inspire those who have financial obstacles

Read more about Bessie Coleman:

 

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