The birth of aviation in the United States coincided with the era of Jim Crow, a climate of formal and informal racial discrimination. African Americans — as a group — found themselves excluded from most spheres of modern technology and from this new exciting realm of aviation. One young woman from Chicago broke this barrier of racial prejudices.
Bessie Coleman became one of the first African Americans to earn a pilot's license and to seek a career in aviation. She was joined by a small but growing number of air enthusiasts who shared her dream.
Visionary William J. Powell Jr. wrote the book, Black Wings, and organized a flying club in Los Angeles. James Herman Banning established impressive records as a long-distance flyer. Cornelius Coffey forged a new center for black aviators in Chicago.