Bessie Coleman, Black Heritage Stamp Series.


Bessie Coleman, Black Heritage Stamp Series.


First Day of Issue: April 27, 1995
First Day City: Chicago, Illinois - Coleman's hometown after 1915
Stamp Designer: Chris Calle, Ridgefield, Connecticut

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), who is honored on this U.S. stamp, pursued her dream of flying with steely determination and grit. Against all odds, she became the first African-American to earn an international pilot's license.

Race, gender and childhood poverty were just some of the obstacles in Coleman's path. But, having read of the exploits of World War I flying aces, nothing could deter her. When American flying schools refused to accept her because she was female and black, she went to France. She learned to fly at the Ecole d' Aviation des Freres Caudron, and earned her pilot's license in 1921 from the prestigious Federation Aernautique Internationale.

Coleman's license allowed her to fly anywhere in the world. Her new ambition, once she returned to the U.S., was to open her own flying school. To raise the necessary funds, she took to the skies as the barnstorming "Queen Bess." Her daring stunts and airborne acrobatics, including "figure eights" and pin-point landings, thrilled the crowds.

Coleman became a role model for African-American women. Wherever she traveled, she gave lectures on the unlimited potential of aviation and the importance of goals. Before her dream of opening a flight school was realized, she was tragically killed in a plane crash while flying over Florida.


Rodney Lawrence Hurst, Sr. Stamp Collection. . Thomas G. Carpenter Library Special Collections and University Archives.


United States Postal Service. Stamp Division


Black Heritage Stamp Series: Bessie Coleman. 1995. Rodney Lawrence Hurst, Sr. Papers. University of North Florida. Thomas G. Carpenter Library. Special Collections and Archives. UNF Digital Commons.


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“Bessie Coleman, Black Heritage Stamp Series.,” Thomas G. Carpenter Library Digital Exhibits, accessed July 23, 2024,