New Doll Honors an Early Pilot
A new Barbie doll has been created to celebrate the life of a talented pilot named Bessie Coleman.
Bessie Coleman was the first Black American woman to earn a pilots’ license.
A new Barbie doll has been created to celebrate the life of a talented pilot named Bessie Coleman. Coleman was the first Black woman in the United States to earn a license to fly a plane.
The Bessie Coleman doll is dressed in a green aviator suit. (Early pilots were often called aviators, which means “fliers.”) Gigi Coleman is Bessie Coleman’s grandniece. She worked with Mattel, the company that makes Barbie dolls, to create the Bessie doll.
“We hope through this doll more people will discover Bessie’s story and be inspired,” Gigi Coleman said.
The Bessie doll was created to honor the life of Bessie Coleman.
Bessie Coleman was born in 1892 in Texas. She was a child when the first planes were flown, and as she got older, she decided she wanted to be a pilot. But at the time, flying schools in the U.S. would not teach women, and they would not teach Black people. Coleman moved to France, where she earned a pilot’s license in 1921.
Coleman became a stunt flier at public shows, performing tricks like flying her plane in a figure eight. People began to call her Brave Bessie. She toured the country, doing flight shows and giving speeches. She would not perform unless Black people were allowed to be in the audience.
Coleman died in an accident in 1926. Today her story lives on. The Bessie Coleman doll is just one way she is celebrated.
Bessie Coleman’s grandniece, Gigi Coleman (center) took a flight with an all Black woman crew to celebrate the new doll.