This month, I learned a very valuable black history fact from my 2 year old. We often play this game called “what do you want to be when you grow up”. Of course the simple and fun rule is “there is no right or wrong answer…everyone gets to be WHATEVER we want to be”. My response is always “a good mommy” and my 2 year old always says “an airplane”. When she was 1 years old she used to just point up at the sky and motion her arms in flight. Every now and then she might respond as a “policeman” or “doctor” but 9/10 times she will gleefully shout out “airplane, blimp or helicopter”.
Well, last week, I decided to enhance our little game with actual visuals. I googled African American Female Pilot and one name kept popping up on every site-BESSIE COLEMAN. When I printed out the photos for my daughter she jumped and shouted with joy! She ran around the house pointing at the pictures shouting “this is me!” as if to say ” mommy you finally get what I’m trying to say!” (LOL).
Well, I continued to read and was absolutely amazed to learn about this woman’s life and tragic death. After I read several versions of her life story, I was close to tears. To think that I have lived all my life with 18 years of formal education and NEVER heard her name. She had very strong beliefs that were not popular at the time. She believed that “African Americans COULD FLY AIRPLANES”. She went to France after teaching herself the language and completed her pilot’s license. She did not live to see her ultimate dream come true which was to establish a school to train others in the U.S. to fly, but she lived fighting for equal treatment and respect. She was a true role model for me personally. She passionately pursued her dream despite the naysayers or negative critics. Her first flight was decades before the famous Tuskegee Airmen!
My question is how could I NOT know about this amazing black history fact? Had it not been for the persistence of my 2 year old in our game of “what do you want to be?”, I wonder if I would have ever stumbled upon this biography? Well, no surprise that one of my holiday gift purchases this year for my daughter will be… the Bessie Coleman doll. Will probably need to by 3 of them (1 to play with, 1 to preserve for the future and 1 to put in our boutique for sale). Whose little known story inspires you to reach for the next level?