Woman Crush Wednesday: Bessie Coleman

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Our next show, Men On Boats, capsizes the white male conquest narrative and features ten extraordinary women in the roles of John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew. In honor of this gleeful gender-bend, we’re launching this #womancrushwednesday series, featuring adventurers from past and present. Check back every Wednesday to learn about these badass women!

This week’s #WomanCrush is aviator Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the world’s first black female pilot. Coleman became interested in aviation after her brother, a WWI pilot, taunted her about “the superiority of French women”, some of whom could even fly planes. Coleman applied to numerous aviation programs in the United States but was rejected; none of them would take a woman or an African-American. Undaunted, Coleman traveled to France, where she graduated from the Caudron Borthers school of Aviation in 1921. She returned to the United States and began touring the country, offering exhibitions and flight lessons. Although her career was tragically shortened by a flight accident in 1926, Coleman’s legacy challenged racial and gender stereotypes and inspired the next generation of female aviators.



“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”
–Bessie Coleman


Read more about Men on Boats, Opening March 2nd