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Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was an American civil aviator. She was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license.[1] [2] [3] She achieved her international pilot license in 1921.[2] [3] [4] Born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas, she went into the cotton fields at a young age but also studied in a small segregated school and went on to attend one term of college at Langston University. She developed an early interest in flying, but African Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight-school opportunities in the United States, so she saved up money to go to France to become a licensed pilot. She soon became a successful air show pilot in the United States, and hoped to start a school for African-American fliers. She died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing her new aircraft. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to the African-American and Native American communities.

Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, the tenth of thirteen children to sharecroppers George Coleman, who was mostly Cherokee and part African-American, and Susan, who was African-American.[5] [3] [6] When Coleman was two years old, her family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, where she lived until age 23.[6] Coleman began attending school in Waxahachie at the age of six. She had to walk four miles each day to her segregated, one-room school, where she loved to read and established herself as an outstanding math student. She completed all eight grades in that school. Every year, Coleman"s routine of school, chores, and church was interrupted by the cotton harvest. In 1901, George Coleman left his family. He returned to Oklahoma, or Indian Territory, as it was then called, to find better opportunities; but Susan and her family did not go along. At the age of 12, Bessie was accepted into the Missionary Baptist Church School on scholarship. When she turned eighteen, she took her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma

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