- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Bessie Coleman

Essay by   •  October 30, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,367 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,912 Views

Essay Preview: Bessie Coleman

2 rating(s)
Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 to Susan and George Coleman who had a large family in Texas. At the time of Bessie's birth, her parents had already been married for seventeen years and already had nine children, Bessie was the tenth, and she would later have twelve brothers and sisters. Even when she was small, Bessie had to deal with issues about race. Her father was of African American and Cherokee Indian decent, and her mother was black which made it difficult from the start for her to be accepted. Her parents were sharecroppers and her life was filled with renter farms and continuous labor. Then, when Bessie was two, her father decided to move himself and his family to Waxahacie, Texas. He thought that it would offer more opportunities for work, if he were to live in a cotton town.

While Bessie was young, and her older brothers and sisters started to work in the fields, Bessie took on some new responsibilities. She would now look after her sisters, and sometimes even help her mother in the garden. Bessie started school when she was six years old and walked four miles to school everyday. In school, she was very intelligent and excelled at math. Then, in 1901, when Bessie was nine, her life changed dramatically, her father George Coleman left his family. It was said that he was tired of the racial barriers that existed, and so he returned to Oklahoma (Indian Territory as it was called then) to search for better opportunities. When he was unable to convince his family to come with him, he left Susan and his family. Shortly thereafter, her older brothers also moved out, leaving Susan with four girls under the age of nine. This caused Susan to have to get a job, which she found very soon. She became a housekeeper for Mr. and Mrs. Jones, who allowed Susan to still live at home, and they would also give her food and other handed-down clothing. Since her mother was now at work, Bessie took on the responsibility of acting as a mother and a housekeeper. Every year at the cotton harvest, Bessie's routine was changed because she now had to go out into the field and pick cotton for her family to be able to survive. This continued on until Bessie was twelve, and this was when she was accepted into the Missionary Baptist Church, where she completed all of her eight grades. In 1910, she took all of her savings and enrolled in the Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Langston, Oklahoma. But even here, she was only able to accomplish one term before she ran out of money and was forced to go back to Waxahacie, where she became a laundress. In 1915, she moved in with her brother Walter in Chicago to look for work.

While Bessie was in Chicago, she was in a very different community. While she was in Texas, she had to deal with segregation and now where she lived, it was a well-balanced community where the wealthy worked right alongside of the non-wealthy. She decided that she would become a beautician. Then, while she was perfecting her skills, in 1918, her mother and her three younger sisters had joined Bessie and her brothers in Chicago. Then merely one year later, Chicago would encounter one of the worst race riots in history. By this time, Bessie had lived in Chicago five years and moved north, learned a trade and supported herself. But, this was still not good enough for her, and it was because of her older brother John that she decided to become a flier.

While in the United States, Bessie could not find anyone to teach her to fly, she took a confidants advice and decided to go to aviation school in France. She departed for France in November of 1919. While she was there, she completed a ten month course in seven months at the Ecole d'Aviation des Freres Cauldon at Le Crotoy in the Somme. Here her schooling included "tail spins, banking and looping the loop." Then, on June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman became the first black women to establish a license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). Also, Bessie was the first person of any race or sex to receive an international pilot's license, which allowed her to fly anywhere in the world that she wanted to. She was the only one out of sixty-two candidates to succeed in earning an FAI license.

On September 16, 1921, Coleman boarded the "S.S. Manchuria" and was sponsored by the "Chicago Defender." It was here that she was named " the worlds greatest woman flyer." Six weeks later, she was in Chicago and performed a show. She created an image of herself wearing military style uniform. While she was in the United States, she began



Download as:   txt (7.5 Kb)   pdf (97.4 Kb)   docx (11.7 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 10). Bessie Coleman. Retrieved 10, 2010, from

"Bessie Coleman" 10 2010. 2010. 10 2010 <>.

"Bessie Coleman.", 10 2010. Web. 10 2010. <>.

"Bessie Coleman." 10, 2010. Accessed 10, 2010.