Coleman moved to Paris after flying schools in the U.S. rejected her for being a black woman. Google dedicated its Google Doodle to her on Thursday.
Born 125 years ago today, Bessie Coleman was a civil aviator and a pioneer in more ways than one.
Coleman, an African-American woman, grew up in the late 19th century in segregated Texas and dreamed of becoming a pilot from a young age. After moving to Chicago at 23 to live with her brother, she discovered that no flying schools in the U.S. would admit her, according to PBS.
But Coleman's brother told her that French women were allowed to learn how to fly, and so—after taking French lessons for a short time—she set off to Paris, enrolled in a flying school, and was granted her pilot's license in 1921.
She was the first female African-American pilot.
On Thursday, Google remembered the pioneering aviator with a Google Doodle.
For the five years after she got her pilot's license, Coleman made a name for herself performing in stunt shows across the country. She died in a freak accident after a wrench got caught in the control gears and she and her mechanic both fell to their deaths.
"The air is the only place free from prejudices," she famously said.