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Mattel Honors the First Black Female Pilot

An intrepid young Black woman who became a pilot in the 1920s has become the latest hero to be honored in the Barbie doll series featuring ‘Inspiring Women’.

Aviator Bessie Coleman in 1923
Credit: Mattel | Bessie Coleman in 1923 | Wikipedia

Born in Texas in 1892, Bessie Coleman broke new ground in the field of aviation. Despite fierce obstacles in her path, Bessie Coleman inspired generations of women to soar - both literally and figuratively.

Despite facing racial and gender discrimination, she became the first Black and Native American female aviator - and had to go to France in 1921 to get her license as there were no pilot schools in America that would take her.

As a daring pilot in the early years of aviation, Coleman made many acrobatic flights during her barnstorming trips across America, sometimes parachuting from her plane to the awe of audiences. She was also a force of nature. In an era of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation, she was determined to succeed and make her dreams a reality. When told she couldn’t do something, “Queen Bess” or “Brave Bessie” - as she was known to her fans - dug in her stylish heels and made it happen.

The ‘Brave Bessie’ doll was sculpted to her likeness and dons a traditional olive-green aviator suit, including a cap with her initials “BC”.


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