1995 32¢ Bessie Coleman
Black Heritage Series
Issue Date: April 27, 1995
City: Chicago, IL
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Color: Red and black
In Black Wings, William Powell wrote, “Because of Bessie Coleman, we have overcome that which was much worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.”
Born in 1892 and raised in the cotton fields of Texas, Bessie Coleman dared to dream that one day she would become someone history would remember. Working as a manicurist in Chicago, she was inspired by tales of female aviators in France during World War I, and decided to become a pilot. When no one in America would teach her how to fly, she traveled to France. In 1921 she received her license from the prestigious Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1921.
Coleman returned to America a celebrity. Flying in exhibitions and lecturing on the potential of both flight and her race, she inspired others with her positive attitude and determination to succeed. Coleman hoped to open a flying school for other African-Americans, and was close to achieving that goal when, in 1926, she died in the crash of a flimsy World War I Army surplus plane.
On February 26, 1992, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution requesting that the U.S. Postal Service issue a stamp commemorating Bessie Coleman and her ground-breaking achievements.