What do Bessie Coleman have in common with Tina Turner, Jane Goodall and Madam CJ Walker? As of Wednesday, Barbie dolls.
Barbie on Wednesday officially announced the launch of the Bessie Coleman doll as part of the “Inspiring Women” series in honor of her January 26th birthday and the impending Black History Month. The first black and Native American female pilot, her success gave wings to other pilots of color.
Gigi Coleman said, “Keeping Bessie’s legacy alive has always been a loving task for my family. We are proud to continue sharing our aunt’s pioneering spirit with fans of all ages,” Bessie Coleman’s great niece said in a statement.
Barbie doll also partners with Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars, a non-profit organization founded by Gigi Coleman, to educate students and introduce them to careers in the aviation industry.
Coleman was born on a Texas sharecropper in 1892 and became interested in flying while living in Chicago.
Because of her race and gender, US flight schools didn’t recognize Coleman, but that didn’t stop her. Coleman went abroad and she learned French and moved to Paris to attend aviation school. In 1921, she became the first black woman to obtain a pilot’s license, and she returned to America to begin her aerial stunts.
However, her career was cut short. During her May Day celebration practice in Jacksonville, Florida, her plane flipped over while being piloted by a mechanic. Coleman, who was not wearing her seatbelt, plunged to her death. she was 34 years old.
“I hope more people will discover and be inspired by Bessie’s story through this doll,” said Gigi Coleman.
Above: Bessie Coleman’s Barbie doll, part of the “Inspiring Women” series, is released for Black History Month.
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