Celebrating African Americans in Aviation

"The air is the only place free from prejudices." - Bessie Coleman, pioneering aviatrix

Spanning over a century, the history of Black Americans in the world of flight is one of overcoming racial obstacles and inspiring stories of triumph. For half a century after the first powered flight, Black pilots still flew in a largely segregated environment, meeting roadblocks to their success nearly every step of the way. With inspiration from people like Eugene Bullard and Bessie Coleman, more and more Black Americans took to the sky, and proved those that said they could not fly because of their race incredibly wrong.

This online exhibit is dedicated to the story of those who overcame the restrictive social circumstances of the time to broaden Black participation in the growing world of aeronautics, and to those who answered the call and, even now, continue to make history.

Special thanks to Library and Archives Intern Jenna Shaeffer who developed this exhibit.

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