Bessie Coleman, First Black Aviatrix
2018, Olivier Sarrazin, France, 53 min.
- Sat, Aug 24th 5:15pm
- Tue, Aug 27th 6:00pm
Pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to receive a pilot's license. This classy French production uses excerpts from Coleman's journals and sweeping aerial views of the sites where she learned to fly to accompany commentary by experts centered in France and Chicago—the two most important venues in her flying career. Born to a family of Texas sharecroppers, in 1916 the 24-year-old Coleman moved to Chicago, where she embraced the dream of becoming a flier. American aviation schools were closed to both Blacks and women, but Chicago Defender publisher Robert S. Abbott encouraged her ambitions and helped sponsor a trip to France, where she learned to fly. Returning to the U.S., Coleman gained fame as a barnstorming pilot, until her life was cut short by an aviation accident at age 34. Buried in Chicago's Lincoln Cemetery, she remains an inspiration for African American aviators (including astronaut Mae Jemison, who carried a picture of Coleman on her first space mission). In English and French with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR) FF
The following guests are scheduled to appear for audience discussion:
Gigi Coleman Brooms, great-niece of Bessie Coleman and CEO/President of Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars;
Dr. Christopher Reed, Professor Emeritus of History at Roosevelt University and Resident Historian at the DuSable Museum;
Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, CEO/President of Chicago Defender Charities and great-grand-niece of Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender;
Jean-Marc Giboux, director of photography for BESSIE COLEMAN, FIRST BLACK AVIATRIX (Saturday only);
Tammera Holmes, President/CEO of the AeroStar Consulting Corporation and winner of the Bessie Coleman Aviation Award (Saturday only).
VeeLa Gonzales, Archivist/Curator for the Robert Sengstacke Abbott Foundation (Tuesday only).
The Tuesday screening is a Movie Club event.