Meet Bessie Coleman: The First African-American Female Pilot
Born on January 26, 1892, in Atlanta, Texas, Bessie Coleman was unaware of the barriers she would break for African-American women in her lifetime.
After moving to Chicago at the age of 23, Coleman heard stories of the soldiers returning home from World War I and felt inspired and determined to shatter the discrimination she faced as both a woman and an African American at the time. She decided she was going to fly an airplane no matter what it took.
Because her cards seemed stacked against her at the time — seeing as though aviation was a predominately male industry, and the few women who did fly were typically wealthy and white — Coleman was rejected from any and all flight schools she approached.
She then learned French in Chicago and traveled to France to learn to fly under the advice of one of the first African-American millionaires, Robert Abbott.
Following seven months of training in a class in which she was the only "non-Caucasian student," Coleman graduated with an international pilot's license in June 1921, becoming the first African-American female pilot.
See how today's Google Doodle honors her achievement in celebration of her birthday.
Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images