Bessie Coleman, the first licensed African American aviator, was honored at the Orlando Executive Airport yesterday with a street renaming ceremony.
Coleman was born in 1892. Listening to and reading stories from WWI pilots inspired her to pursue aviation in her twenties. However, because of heavy racial and gender discrimination, Coleman couldn’t attend aviation schools in the United States. She learned French and moved to France in 1922. She attended the famous Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation and received her aviation license within seven months.
Coleman’s focus was stunt flying, parachuting, and aerial tricks. In 1926, Coleman died in a tragic aviation accident.
The new “Bessie Coleman Street” designation on Washington Ave near the Orlando Executive Airport was officially designated by the Florida Legislature. Florida Senator Geraldine Thompson was joined by Mayor Dyer and Mayor Jacobs at the ceremony.
Update January 30, 2015: This post was updated to include the location of the Bessie Coleman Street designation and correct Senator Geraldine Thompson’s position as a FL Senator.