In 1901, her father abandoned the family to return to Cherokee territory. Life was difficult for the family but Coleman focused on her studies. At 18, she used all of her savings to enroll in college. After one term, she was forced to withdraw because she didn't have enough money to continue.
She moved to Chicago to find work. As a manucurist in a barber shop, she heard the stories of many returning soldiers of World War I. That was when Coleman's dream to become a pilot was born.
Unable to train in the United States because of laws discriminating against her race, Coleman trained to become an aviator in France with the financial help of funding from a local banker. The story of her journey was followed closely by The Defender newspaper.
In order to make a living as an aviator, Coleman became a barnstorming stunt flier. She became known as "Queen Bess" and was a huge crowd-pleaser.
Coleman died in April 1926 when she was thrown from a plane in a nose dive caused by a plane malfunction. She was mourned by 5000 funeral-goers and many more around the world.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by writer Heidi Durrowcelebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.