Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) Born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas (Cass County) Coleman was the first African-American female pilot. In 1920, Coleman with the assistance of Robert Abbott, one of the first African American millionaires, learned to fly in France over the next seven months. She was celebrated upon her return to the United States.  Crowds gathered to greet Coleman upon her return.  While in Europe, Coleman took part in airshows. She only performed at shows that were integrated. Continuing to perform in show upon her return to the United States, Coleman was very popular, she was known as “Queen Bess”.

According to an editorial in the “Dallas Express”, “There is a reason to believe the general public did not completely sense the size of her contribution to the achievements of the race as such”.

Coleman died in a plane crash near Jacksonville, Florida. It was discovered that a wrench used to service the plane was jammed into the gearbox, Coleman was 34 years old.  The famous writer, Ida B. Wells presided over her funeral.

Black Firsts Quiz - Part 1

10 Questions Regarding the First Accomplishments of Black Americans

Leaderboard: Black Firsts Quiz - Part 1

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