The Wonder of Brave Bessie Coleman

People that have never heard of Bessie Coleman sometimes naively say “Why Bessie Coleman today? That was then, this is now.”

In our pre-production research of Bessie Coleman we produced an informal preview film about her life. The film has been shown to over a thousand people in dozens of different types of groups of people. Before the filming the audience is asked if they have ever heard of Amelia Earhart. All hands shoot up. When asked if they have heard of Bessie Coleman we are lucky to see 2 or 3 hands.  In a question and answer session after the showing there is a general disbelief among the audience how they got this far in life without learning about Bessie Coleman. When they are asked where they learned about Amelia Earhart the answer of course is in School. In answering that question they answer their first question.

Bessie earned her pilots license before Amelia Earhart and far exceeded her skill levels in every aspect of aviation. Bessie’s civil rights accomplishments and work with children were an inspiration of pride to millions of Blacks that followed her every move.  Bessie is the acknowledged leader of Black aviation in America today. While others were waiting for things to change…Bessie Coleman made things change! And yet, even today, Bessie is afforded only a line or two, if at all, in school history books. That is a gross injustice. Bessie’s message to children is as meaningful today as it was 90 years ago!

 

So my answer to those that ask “Why Bessie Coleman today?” is…why not Bessie Coleman today!”

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