Pioneering pilot Bessie Coleman gets her own Barbie doll.
On Wednesday, Barbie announced the launch of its Bessie Coleman doll as part of the company’s “Inspiring Women” series. The latest installment was created to honor Coleman’s birthday, which is January 26th. The doll will also highlight the beginning of Black History Month.
“Keeping Bessie’s legacy alive has always been a labor of love for my family, and we are proud to recognize her determination and accomplishments for Black women in aviation and continue to share my great aunt’s pioneering spirit with fans of all ages,” Bessie’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman said.
In addition to the doll, Barbie will partner with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars and as well as Girls Write Now. The Aviation All-Stars is a nonprofit founded by Gigi. The nonprofit “educates students and introduces them to careers in aviation,” CNN says.
Coleman was born to Texas sharecroppers in 1892. She first became intrigued with flying and planes while living in Chicago. However, due to race and gender, Coleman was not allowed to attend any U.S. flight schools.
Nevertheless, Coleman traveled overseas to attend an aviation school in Paris. Around 1921, she became the first African-American woman to secure a pilot’s license. Shortly after, Coleman came back to the U.S. and began performing aerial stunt shows.
Unfortunately, Coleman’s aviation career was short-lived after she fell to her death during a practice for a May Day celebration. Coleman had been practicing for her performance when her plane flipped over. The female pilot was not wearing a seatbelt at the time and plummeted to the ground.
“We hop through this doll more people will discover Bessie’s story and be inspired,” Gigi said.