At the age of 29, Coleman enrolled in a flight school and received her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921.
When it comes to toys, Mattel’s iconic Barbie is often seen as the ultimate companion and role model for young girls. So it’s no surprise that the toy company has chosen to honor the first black female pilot, Bessie Coleman, with a new Barbie in her likeness. Coleman was a remarkable woman who achieved great things in the face of immense adversity. She remains an inspiring example of courage and determination. The Barbie ‘Inspiring Women’ series celebrates amazing female role models throughout history and Coleman is the latest hero to join the ranks.
Born in the US in the early 20th Century, Bessie Coleman was a brave and pioneering Black Native American woman who became a successful pilot. Despite facing discrimination because of her race and gender, she persevered and became the first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license. She also became a well-known barnstorming stunt flyer and made a name for herself in the field of aviation.
Good News Alert:— Goodable (@Goodable) January 30, 2023
Mattel has unveiled its newest Barbie doll in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to hold a pilot's license.
The doll was made in collaboration with Coleman's great niece, and is part of Barbie's Inspiring Women series. pic.twitter.com/qgE4vChJZZ
To commemorate her legacy, a Barbie doll has been sculpted to her likeness and dons a traditional olive-green aviator suit, including a cap with her initials “BC”. Bessie Coleman’s bravery and determination is an inspiring example to the generations of female pilots and she is a worthy addition to the ‘Inspiring Women’ series.
According to the description on Mattel Creations' website, Priscila Bara, the packaging designer for the Barbie doll, expressed her enthusiasm, saying, "It was great to learn more about such a daring wonderful woman who was ahead of her time." Gigi Coleman, Bessie's great-niece, collaborated with Mattel on the creation of the doll in order to keep her legacy alive. Gigi expressed that she and her family are hopeful that the doll will help more people to discover Bessie's story and be inspired by her courage and pioneering spirit.
She inspired other pilots of color to earn their wings. Now Bessie Coleman has her own Barbie doll as part of an "Inspiring Women" series ahead of Black History Month. https://t.co/h1gLK76Bgd pic.twitter.com/YLlKjkU8cK— CNN (@CNN) January 25, 2023
Bessie Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas on January 26, 1892, and grew up in poverty. Despite her limited resources, she was determined to pursue higher education and attended college for one semester. After hearing about the rights women had in France, including the ability to fly planes, Coleman was determined to make it her mission to become a pilot. She was unable to find an American aviator to teach her, so she saved up her money and studied the French language in order to sail to France. At the age of 29, Coleman enrolled in a flight school and received her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921.
When she returned to the US, Coleman earned the nickname “Brave Bessie” for her daring aerial stunts. In 1922, she made history by becoming the first African American woman to stage a public flight. She continued to make a living by performing barnstorming tricks.
She was known for her daring stunts. She thrilled audiences with her skill and daring during her tour of the country. Coleman's show consisted of her performing figure-8 shapes with her plane, walking on the plane's wings in midair, and even parachuting from the plane while a co-pilot took the controls.
In addition to her impressive flying skills, Coleman was also known for her refusal to perform for segregated audiences. At one event, Coleman learned that there would be separate entrances for black and white people. She insisted that there be only one gate, and the event organizers agreed. In this way, Coleman used her platform to challenge the racism of the Jim Crow era. Coleman tragically passed away in 1926 at the age of 34 in a plane crash. The creators of the new Barbie, released this month, hope to make her an even more renowned American icon.