Barbie Honors Bessie Coleman With Inspiring Women Doll

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Photo: Mattel

In 1921, Bessie Coleman made history as the first Black and Native American female aviator and first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license. Now, over a century later, Barbie is giving the trailblazing pilot the flowers she deserves with a doll created in her likeness.

Just in time for her January 26 birthday and the start of Black History Month, Barbie has announced the launch of the Bessie Coleman Inspiring Women doll, the latest in their Inspiring Women series. Since 2018, the dolls have paid tribute to the role models who have inspired generations of girls to dream big, including Madam C.J. Walker, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks.

To make sure the Bessie doll was something her family would be proud of, Mattel and Barbie consulted with GiGi Coleman, Bessie’s great-niece and President of The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars – a non-profit that promotes Bessie’s legacy through STEM and introduces students to careers in aviation.

Keeping her great-aunt’s legacy alive has been GiGis life work. And she wants the world to know the story that they may not have learned in school. “I think it’s important for people to know who Bessie Coleman was and what she contributed to aviation,” Coleman told The Root in an interview. “She received her pilot’s license two years before Amelia Earhart, but it was never in the history books.”

Coleman says she loved being involved with the design of her great-aunt’s doll, who is wearing a traditional olive-green aviator suit, tall lace-up boots and a hat with her initials. “I really felt like I was a part of the whole process. From the uniform to her gear, everything is just beautiful,” she said.

Along with the launch of the Bessie doll, Barbie is also planning special partnerships with The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars and Girls Write Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring the next generation of writers.

They will also host a special January 26 event with American Airlines – the first commercial airline to hire a Black pilot – surprising passengers on a flight operated by an all-Black female flight crew.

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