Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I designed this inspiration board of French women and expats because I've been pretty uninspired to study for my French exam lately. I've let go of the bitterness left by my University's French department failing me because I couldn't get my Mum's death certificate in time to prove I wasn't skipping out on French class; but, I digress. French is one of the two languages required for my PhD and Yoruba is the other. A little visual inspiration should be just what I need to get in gear...
Left to right, top to bottom:
film still from Noir De, Bessie Coleman, Lois Mailou Jones, Josephine Baker, French Vogue, Nina Simone
But as I cut and pasted women into my montage their amazing stories made me feel so small and petty. Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman's level of determination made me hang my head in shame.
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot was born in 1892, the tenth of 13 children. Coleman got the idea of becoming a pilot while reading newspaper articles about World War I pilots. No flight school in the United States would train her, but Coleman didn’t let that stop her. She took a French language course in Chicago, then, using her savings and the help of some influential friends, she traveled to France. She learned to fly and got her license in 1921 from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. When Coleman returned to the United States, now a celebrity, she performed in airshows and raised money to open her own flight school. She died in 1926 in an aircraft accident, apparently while flight testing a Curtiss JN-4 (from Bessie Coleman: A Life Less Ordinary, AOPA Pilot Blog, January 26, 2009 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor ).
Nothing kept Bessie Coleman from her dream: not racial barriers, financial barriers, gender barriers, and MOST CERTAINLY NOT A FRENCH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT. 

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