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Born on January 26, 1892, Bessie Coleman was the first Native American of African descent to become a licensed pilot. As the daughter of sharecroppers, Coleman endured many hardships, yet preserved while growing up in the cotton fields. She attended a segregated school and went on to further Her academic studies at Langston University for one term.
A gentleman by the name of Robert Abbott was the first to realize her passion for aviation and suggested she take flight lessons in France. Along with some financial help from an African American Entrepreneur and Abbott himself, Bessie was able to go to flight school.
Of course, she passed with flying colors! At this newfound achievement as the first woman of color to achieve flight hood, many a reporter sought her out for personal interviews. Upon Her return to the United States in the 1920s, Bess became a stunt plane performer otherwise known as a barnstormer.
Doing tricky airplane maneuvers like figure eights, loop de loops, and other such patterns for audience members. Due to the current racial segregation, she often refused performance offers that did not let African Americans attend.
She even told a showrunner in Texas to allow both white and black attenders to enter and exit through the same gate or the show would go on without her. During Her travels abroad, Coleman shared words of wisdom to empower others
Bessie Coleman Quotes
1. “If I can create a minimum of my plans and desires, there shall be no regrets.” — Bessie Coleman
2. “A woman is like a teabag — you can’t tell how strong she is until you put Her in hot water.” — Bessie Coleman
3. “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” — Bessie Coleman
4. “You’ve never lived till you’ve flown.” — Bessie Coleman
5. “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
6. “The air is the only place to be free from prejudices.” — Bessie Coleman
7. “As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.” — Bessie Coleman
8. “I refused to take no for an answer.” — Bessie Coleman
9. “The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” — Bessie Coleman
10. “I made my mind up to try. I tried and was successful.” — Bessie Coleman
11. “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” — Bessie Coleman
12. “Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.” — Bessie Coleman
13. “I knew we had no aviators, neither men nor women, and I knew the race needed to be represented along this most important line.” — Bessie Coleman
14. “I thought it my duty to risk my life to learn aviation and to encourage flying among men and women of our race, who are so far behind the white race in this modern study.” — Bessie Coleman
15. “Tell them that as soon as I can walk, I am going to fly.” — Bessie Coleman
16. “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” — Bessie Coleman
17. “The only source of knowledge is experience.” — Bessie Coleman
18. “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” — Bessie Coleman
19. “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” — Bessie Coleman
Quotes Regarding Bessie Coleman
20 “It was soldiers returning from World War I with wild tales of flying exploits who first interested Coleman in aviation. She was also spurred on by Her brother, who taunted Her with claims that French women were superior to African American women Because they could fly.” — PBS
21. “Fulfilling Her dream sparked a revolution and led the way for new generations of dreamers and future aviation legends.” — The National Aviation Hall of Fame
22. “Because she was born with a drive to better herself, Coleman was an avid reader. Her mother ensured that the Coleman children made good use of the traveling library that came through two or three times a year.” — BessieColeman.org
23. “About 10,000 mourners paid their last respects to the first African American woman aviator, filing past Her coffin in Chicago South’s Side.” — PBS
24. “She was a modern woman in a not so modern world.” — BessieColeman.org
25. “Bessie would only perform if the crowds were desegregated and entered thru the same gates.” — The National Aviation Hall of Fame
26. “Queen Bess, the World’s Greatest woman Flier” — Unknown Author
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Bessie Coleman Books & Literature
Several books published in honor of the awe-inspiring Bessie Coleman for both adults and children alike. Some of which include: ‘Bessie Cole: First Black woman Pilot,’ ‘Talkin About Bessie,’ ‘Up in the Air: The Story of Bessie Coleman,’ ‘The Legend: The Bessie Coleman Story,’ ‘The Road to Paris,’ ‘Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of “Brave Bessie” Coleman,’ ‘Fly, Bessie, Fly,’ and ‘Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman.’
The single best book if you want to learn more about her incredible life story is The Life of Bessie Coleman
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Bessie Coleman Video – The 1st Female African American Pilot
This video from the Smithsonian is a great short history of Bessie’s accomplishments and her role in history.
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Due to her notoriety, Coleman soon became famous, receiving recognition and the highest of honors. One of which includes a spot at the International Air & Space Hall of Fame in San Diego’s Air & Space Museum. In honor of this spirited young woman, many well-known airports have roads named after her. There is even one public library located in Chicago, Illinois which decided to do the same.
Bessie had a heart for aviation, in fact, her ultimate goal in life was to start a flight school. One that would give African American women the chance to become pilots and head off into the deep blue yonder.
She often reflected upon her time in flight school in the United States and how the teachers gave Her the utmost respect. Thus, motivating Bessie to give other females of color the same opportunities she did. These Empowering Bessie Coleman Quotes are a true inspiration for girls and women from all walks of life. We hope they spark your inner flame and open up the doorway to your dreams.
Image Credit: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons