Monday, October 28, 2013
Bessie Coleman Flying the Blues
Short film by Opio Sokoni
Memorial to celebrity aviator Bessie Coleman could find home at Jacksonville's airport
Posted: October 27, 2013 Florida Times Union
By Matt Soergel
The famous and daring Bessie Coleman plunged to her death in Jacksonville in 1926, falling 2,000 feet from an airplane over the Westside. The death of the woman known as “Queen Bess” was headline news all across the country. Then America moved on, to other dramas, other tragedies, other heroes.
More than 87 years later, though, her life could soon be honored again at a most appropriate place — in the airport of the city where she died.
Jacksonville native Opio Sokoni has been pushing for a memorial somewhere in the city to Coleman, who was the first black woman to get a pilot’s license. He’s suggested a statue of her, or a street, park or school named after her.
He recently found a supporter in Steve Grossman, CEO of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, who said he favors doing something at Jacksonville International Airport to recognize Coleman.
Grossman said he’s not sure what that would be yet, though he plans to get the project moving in the next few weeks. “I would like to figure out: What should we do, and where should we do it?” he said.
He’s familiar with Coleman’s story; when he was head of the airport in Oakland, Calif., he supported efforts there to name a street after her. “It was the right thing to do,” he said.
Coleman was a nationwide celebrity, famed for her perseverance, boldness and beauty. She died Aug. 30, 1926, the day before a big air show in Jacksonville, after she and pilot William Wills took off to scout where she would make a parachute jump the next day.
During the flight, the plane went into a sudden dive — reports said a wrench slid and jammed the controls — and Coleman, who had been peering over the side, was thrown to her death. Wills was killed as the plane exploded on impact.
In 2012, a bronze plaque with Coleman’s likeness was placed at the front doors of Paxon School for Advanced Studies. In the 1920s, that was the site of the airfield where the ill-fated flight began. But Sokoni thinks more should be done for her. And what better place, he said, than an airport?
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-10-27/story/memorial-celebrity-aviator-bessie-coleman-could-find-home-jacksonvilles#ixzz2j4n2IZUU
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Pioneer Aviatrix Bessie Coleman was from the other Atlanta - a small town in Texas. Just like Chicago and Frankfurt Germany, a street at the airport is named in Brave Bessie's honor...
Atlanta Honors Bessie Coleman
City names street in aviator's honor
Journal Staff Report
The city of Atlanta honored one of its own Friday when it unveiled a street sign renaming the road leading to the city airport to Bessie Coleman Drive. The road was originally named Airport Drive.
Coleman was American's first female African-American pilot. She was born in Atlanta on Jan. 26, 1892, the sixth surviving child of Susan and George Coleman.
She made headlines in 1921when she became the first African-American woman to earn an international pilot's license. On Sept. 3, 1922 she made history as she became the first black woman to fly over American soil.
Coleman died April 30, 1926 in a flying accident near Jacksonville, Florida.
She was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame on Nov. 10 of this year.
Mayor Kay Philips unveiled the sign and guests were treated to refreshments afterward in the terminal at the Atlanta Municipal Airport.