The Intersection of Race, Gender, and Socio-Economic Status in the Life of Bessie Coleman

Main Article Content

Paul E. Cline

Abstract

Gender is everywhere and influences everything.  Gender can often be a system of social control.  It is the primary way society groups its inhabitants.  That said, gender does not act in isolation.  Rather, it is part of a larger network of control that includes such elements as race, color, creed, religion, sexuality, gender identity, national origin, and socio-economic status.  These factors are clearly evident in the life of Bessie Coleman, the first African American pilot of either sex to earn an international pilot's license.  Born into poverty in the waning years of the nineteenth century, Bessie Coleman had four distinct disadvantages:  she was poor, female, and African American and Native American in the post reconstruction South.  Bessie Coleman's story is both encouraging and heart wrenching.  She was a woman far ahead of her time in a society not yet ready to accept a woman of color succeeding in what until then had been the private domain of white males. 

Article Details

Section
Literature Reviews
Author Biography

Paul E. Cline, York College City University of New York

Assistant Professor of Aviation

Department of Business and Economics 

References

Acosta, Bertrand “Bert” B. (2019). In National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved from https://www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/acosta-bertrand-bert-b/

Arestis, P., Charles, A., & Fontana, G. (2014). Identity Economics Meets Financialisation: Gender, Race and Occupational Stratification in the US Labour Market. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 38, 1471–1491. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/beu024

Blair, C. M. (2014). African American Women’s Sexuality. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, 35(1), 4–10.

Bunch-Lyons, B. (2015). “Ours is a Business of Loyalty”: African American Funeral Home Owners in Southern Cities. Southern Quarterly, 53(1), 57–71.

Burman, B. (2000). Racing Bodies: Dress and Pioneer Women Aviators and Racing Drivers. Women’s History Review, 9(2), 299–326.

Cameron, R. H. (1999). Training to Fly: Military Flight Training 1907-1945. Air Force History and Museums.

Chicago Defender. (2019). In Britannica Academic. Retrieved from https://academic-eb-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/levels/collegiate/article/Chicago-Defender/2511

Cohen, I. (2000). David L. Behncke, The Airline Pilots, and the New Deal: The Struggle for Federal Labor Legislation. Labor History, 41(1), 47–62.

Creasman, K. (1997). Black birds in the sky: The legacies of Bessie Coleman and Dr. Mae Jemison. The Journal of Negro History, 82(1), 158–168.

Curtiss JN-4D Jenny. (2019). In Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved from https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/curtiss-jn-4d-jenny

Desantis, A. (1997). A Forgotten Leader. Journalism History, 23(2), 63–71.

DeSantis, A. (1998). Selling the American Dream Myth to Black Southerners: The Chicago Defender and the Great Migration of 1915-1919. Western Journal of Communication, 62(4), 474–511.

https://doi.org/10.1080/10570319809374621

Finler, J. (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press.

Finnegan, T. (2014). Politics of Defiance: Uncovering the Causes and Consequences of Lynching and Communal Violence. Journal of American History, 101(3), 850–851.

Freydberg, E. A. H. (1989). Bessie Coleman: The Brownskin Lady Bird (Dissertation). Indiana University.

Gates, Stunt Flier, Ends Life By Leap: Founder of Flying Circus Jumps out Window as Wife Tries to Hold Him Back. (1932, November 25). New York Times, p. 16.

Gill, T. (2010). Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Hardesty, V. (2008). Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History. Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Henri, F. (1975). Black Migration: Movement North, 1900-1920. Anchor Press/Doubleday.

Higgins, M. (2017). Juneteenth: Fact Sheet (No. R44865; p. 7). Congressional Research Service.

Hodes, M. (1993). The Sexualization of Reconstruction Politics: White Women and Black Men in the South After the Civil War. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 3(3), 402–417.

Ivery, R. (2002, March 13). Bessie Coleman, The First Black Woman Aviatior. Miami Times.

Kitchens, J. (2003). Barnstorming. In Dictionary of American History (3rd ed., Vol. 1, p. 418). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Knight, A. (2010). D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”: A History of “The most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time.” Film Quarterly, 64(1), 78–79.

Ku Klux Klan. (n.d.). In Encyclopaedia Britannica (Britannica Academic). Retrieved from https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Ku-Klux-Klan/46315

Meszaros, J., & Bazzaroni, C. (2014). From Taboo to Tourist Industry: The Constructin of Interracial Intimacies Between Black Men and White Women in Colonial and Contemporary Times. Sociology Compass, 8(11), 1256–1268.

Murphy, J. . (2005). Aircraft, Reconnaissance and Auxiliary. In World War 1: Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abcwwi/aircraft_reconnaissance_and_auxiliary/0?institutionId=2261

Nagel, J. (2000). Ethnicity and Sexuality. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 107–133.

Nash, T. (2015). Biography: Bessie Coleman - The First Aviatrix. In The Heroine Collective. Retrieved from http://www.theheroinecollective.com/bessie-coleman-the-first-aviatrix/

Norwood, C. (2018). Mapping the Intersections of Violence on Black Women’s Sexual Health within the Jim Crow Geographies of Cincinnati Neighborhoods. Frontiers (Boulder), 39(2), 97–135.

Ortiz, P. A. (2000). “Like Water Covered the Sea”: African American Freedom Struggle in Florida, 1877-1920 (Dissertation). Duke University.

Pfister, G. (1990). The Medical Discourse on Female Physical Culture in Germany in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Journal of Sport History, 17(2), 183–198.

Pitcher, C. (1999). D.W. Griffith’s Controversial Film, The Birth of a Nation. Magazine of History, 13(3).

Rice, T. (2016). White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making of the Ku Klux Klan. Indiana University Press.

Rich, D. L. (1993). Queen Bess Daredevil Aviator. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Roberts, D. (1998). Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Vintage Books, an imprint of Knopf Double Day.

Rogin, M. (1985). “The Sword Became a Flashing Vision”: D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. Representations, 9, 150–195.

Sanger, R. (2002). Nieuport Aircraft of World War One. Crowood.

Staurowsky, E. J. (2007). Coleman, Bessie. In Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports. Retrieved from https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/berkextsp/coleman_bessie/0?institutionId=2261

Thompson-Miller, R., & Picca, L. H. (2017). “There Were Rapes!”: Sexual Assaults of African American Women and Children in Jim Crow. Violence Against Women, 23(8), 934–950. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801216654016

Travis, D. (2014). An Autobiography of Black Chicago. Agate Bolden.

Van Der Linden, F. R. (2006). Best of the National Air and Space Museum. Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Wade, C. (2010). African American Entrepreneurs: Integration, Education, and Exclusion. Western New England Law Review, 32(3), 483.

Wechsler-Segal, M. (1995). Women’s military roles cross-nationally: Past, present, and future. Gender and Society, 9(6), 757–775.

Weisstein, N. (1982). Tired of Arguing About Biological Inferiority. Ms. Magazine, (November).

Whalan, M. (2005). “The Only Real White Democracy” and the Language of Liberation: The Great War, France, and African American Culture in the 1920s. MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 51(4), 775–800.

White-robed Klan cheered on march in nation’s capital. (1925, August 9). Washington Post.

Whittall, N. (2019). Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI). In Britannica Academic. Retrieved from https://academic-eb-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/levels/collegiate/article/F%C3%A9der%C3%A1tion-A%C3%A9ronautique-Internationale/343176

Williams, J. K. (2013, March). Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman: The Original Fly Girl. New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/docview/1412225067?accountid=4485

Wright, R. (1991). Uncle Tom’s Children (5th ed.). Library of America.