Bessie Coleman: How Many Odds Can You Have Against You?

Bessie Coleman Stamp

Ask Bessie Coleman, Queen agains odds! 😉


Queen Bessie Coleman: Against all Odds

Humble Beginnings

Bessie Coleman, the daughter of two cotton pickers in Texas, knew early on her ambition and brains did not match her humble beginnings.  Coleman’s parents were both illiterate children of slaves. While her mother was indeed encouraging, her desire to learn and educate herself made her stand out from many other children. Otherwise, why walk four miles each way to attend the one-room school for blacks?

Unless she had to join in picking cotton. Those were the rules for a black child in those days of the Jim Crow south. Cotton before education!

I have no doubts she was a highly gifted person, the type who would have been accepted to Mensa, had it existed then. Coleman was not just highly ambitious and hardworking; that is another ballgame altogether.

How can I be so sure? Because whatever she put her hands on, she quickly became one of the best. Whether working as a manicurist, studying a language, or flying, she quickly rose to the top.

With such ambition, she initiated studies at the Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Oklahoma, but her savings were not nearly enough and she ran out of funds after only one semester.

Off to Chicago, and then France!

Coleman started out as a manicurist in Chicago, where she lived with two brothers who had served in World War I. They told her about French women being free to fly and how racism was not part of the deal over there.

And so the dream began.

Flying wasn’t for colored people. And definitely not for a woman. How could it have been? It’s hardly for women even now.

It always makes me shake my head when they say, “We have come so far.” No, we haven’t, because if we had we would already be there, and we are not!

jimcrowGOThere is a lot of talk about her flying. Yes, that is notable in itself, but how did she get there? What was going on in her brain? In her time, the perspective of being

  • A woman
  • Black
  • Poor
  • With no language skills

was no joke!

How many Americans know two languages today? How easy was it to even learn a new language then for an African-American girl, granddaughter of southern slaves?

Today it’s a piece of cake. You jump online, and off you go blabbering away with the world. You don’t even have to pay as long as you have access to a computer and an internet connection. You can get that in most public libraries.

Imagine the desire, the longing, the yearning to fly high! Above everyone else…

A Mysterious Marriage

Coleman had some male “friends.” No one stands out as a great love or such. However, she did marry Claude Glenn, a friend of her brother Walter. He was 14 years older than her, a quiet, pleasant man. It wasn’t for the money as he wasn’t wealthy. Weirder still was that they never lived together. Nor did they ever tell anyone about their marriage, including her family!

OK! Let me stop and breathe here for a second.

We have no idea what her sexual preferences were. But we do know throughout history there have been countless marriages to cover up for homosexuality. There still are. Plenty! All over the world of repression, threat and bigotry…

So, no one really knows why they married. They never talked about it. There was no big announcement. Had they been scheming to cover up some same-sex relations, talking about it would make sense. I mean, a cover-up with something you never talk about is strange. Yet, I would not rule out the possibility of an LGBT connection here. We don’t know, so why not? 😉

Queen Bess of the Skies

When she returned from France, Bessie Coleman was the first African-American aviator of either sex with an Bessie Coleman Stampinternational pilot’s license! Wo-ha! She quickly rose to stardom as one of the first stunt pilots in history.

She refused to perform for audiences that didn’t allow blacks, just as her contemporary Josephine Baker did.

She dreamed of starting a flying school for people of any gender and color.

She fell out of her own plane and died in Jacksonville, Florida in 1926.

Ten thousand mourners lined up to show their admiration and respect, to cry and wave goodbye to their hero: Queen Bess of the skies, against all odds.

If you know there were too few women in your history books, share this article with the buttons below. Yes share, right now!

Great! Now give yourself a good pat on the back, and say thanks! 😉

ps. A few other bad ass black female pilots to be found here. Plus my next article on other early female pioneers.

3 thoughts on “Bessie Coleman: How Many Odds Can You Have Against You?

  1. Yes Christina, so much untold history, hidden to us. And thank YOU for supporting my work through Pateron. You are one of the reasons I can do this at all! Much love and gratitude form my heart. 🙂 <3

  2. Thank you for sharing Stella! So important to know more about the history, it is so much wider than we are being taught!

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