Gigi Coleman the great-niece of Aviatrix Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license, will present a Black History Month program at Burke Lakefront Airport on Friday, February 10 ,2017.
Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the program beginning shortly thereafter. The cost for this event is $15 for IWASM members and $17 for non-members. The museum is located inside Burke Lakefront Airport 1501 N. Marginal Rd. Cleveland, OH 44114.
SEATING IS LIMITED, so RSVP by calling 216.623.1111 or online at www.iwasm.org.
Bessie Coleman was born in Texas in 1892, and was one of 13 children. Her parents were sharecroppers. In 1915, Coleman moved to Chicago to live with her brother. She became a manicurist in a local barbershop and often admired the planes flying over the city. Coleman yearned to fly but had been denied entrance into American flight schools due to her race and gender. A few years later, Coleman learned French and moved to France where she would later become the first African-American woman to obtain a pilot’s license.
After coming back to the states, Coleman enjoyed performing in various air shows. Although having survived multiple crashes, Coleman lost her life in 1926 during a test flight, when the plane spiraled out of control and she fell to her death.
In 1977, the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club was formed in Chicago in Coleman’s memory. In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated a stamp to Coleman as a part of the Black Heritage stamp series, which first started in 1978. Coleman joined the honors alongside some of the most inspirational African-Americans like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson.
To carry on the legacy of Coleman, her great-niece, Gigi, performs at various locations, portraying her great-aunt and inspiring those around her to achieve their dreams. Her reenactment is a one woman show and showcases the life of Bessie.
The International Women’s Air & Space Museum is located in the terminal of Burke Lakefront Airport, only seconds from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. The mission of IWASM is to preserve the history of women in aviation and space and to document their continuing contributions today and in the future. In 1986 the museum opened in Centerville, Ohio. IWASM was welcomed to the City of Cleveland, Ohio in 1998, where you will find their home at Burke Lakefront Airport. Exhibits are in the lobby at Burke, as well as the west concourse, and are accessible seven days a week. For additional information please visit www.iwasm.org.