Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 96 August 2019 - Page 141

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Elisabeth“Bessie“

Coleman An aviation pioneer beyond the boundaries of races and sexes

It Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, the tenth of thirteen children to sharecroppers George and Susan Coleman. Her father was part Cherokee and black while her mother was African American. Coleman began school at age six and had to walk four miles each day to her all-black, one-room school. Despite sometimes lacking such materials as chalk and pencils, Coleman was an excellent student. She loved to read and established herself as an outstanding math student. Coleman completed all eight grades of her one-room school. Every year, Coleman's routine of school, chores, and church was interrupted by the cotton harvest.

In 1901, Coleman's life took a dramatic turn: George Coleman left his family. He became fed up with the racial barriers that existed in Texas. He returned to Oklahoma or Indian Territory as it was then called, to find better opportunities, but Susan and the children did not go with him.

At the age of twelve, Coleman was accepted into the Missionary Baptist Church. When she turned eighteen, Coleman took all of her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (now called Langston University) in Langston, Oklahoma.

MAGSTORY

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