I recently had the pleasure of painting a portrait of Bessie Coleman for @acneel who won my portrait giveaway! What a fantastic choice! 👊 ⚡️ Bessie Coleman was a remarkable and determined woman. She was the first African American to earn an international pilot's license. 💫 Bessie was born in Texas in 1892 to George and Susan Coleman, who were the children of slaves. Bessie grew up picking cotton to help take care of her sisters. Although her education was limited, Bessie's illiterate mother encouraged her to learn. Soon Bessie followed her brothers to Chicago where her love for flying took flight. She applied to aviation school, but like other schools she applied to, Bessie was rejected due to being both black and a woman. So she learned to fly in France where she received her international pilot's license. She returned to the states where she dazzled crowds with her stunts at air shows and refused to be slowed by racism. Due to her fun loving and enthusiastic personality, journalists gave her the nickname Queen Bee. She had goals of starting the first flying school for African Americans but she died tragically in 1926 when a wrench slid forward and jammed the engine of her plane causing it to stall and crash while she was practicing stunts in preparation for a show. Countless schools and roads have been named after Bessie and in 2006 she was inducted into the Aviation hall of fame.
-- Abigail Gray Swartz www.GrayDayStudio.com