H I C A G O
R I B U T E
American aviation schools
didnt accept black women as students
in 1920, so Coleman applied to the Fédération Aéronautique
Internationale in France. Strong moral and financial support from
prominent Negro businessmen, including Robert
of the Chicago Defender, and banker Jesse Binga,
enabled her to
travel there, where she studied with the flying aces of WWI. When
she graduated, Bessie Coleman was the first licensed black aviatrix
in the world.
When Coleman returned
to Chicago, prejudice prevented her from working as
a commercial pilot. Instead, she thrilled crowds throughout the United States
stunt-flying shows. Coleman refused to fly before segregated audiences and
often spoke at schools and churches to promote aviation among blacks.
Coleman lived with her family at 41st Street and South Park Avenue
(now King Drive).
Coleman died in 1926,
a passenger in a plane that spun out of control. Every
year, African-American pilots fly low over Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago and
drop flowers on her grave.