Bessie Coleman, the first African American and first Native American woman pilot, is being nationally recognized as she becomes the sixth woman featured on the U.S. quarter as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters™ program.
To coincide with the release of the coin and to celebrate her legacy, The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center in partnership with the National Women’s History Museum, the United States Mint, and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, is hosting “Historic Change: The Soaring Life of Pilot Bessie Coleman Community Day” on Saturday, February 18 at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, 740 East 56th Place, Chicago.
The free community day begins at 12:00 p.m. and will include a reenactment performance by her great-niece, Gigi Coleman, artmaking activities, story times, and more. Registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. To register visit Eventbrite and search for Historic Change: The Soaring Life of Pilot Bessie Coleman Community Day.
Bessie Coleman soared across the sky as the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn her pilot’s license in the U.S. Known for performing flying tricks, Coleman’s nicknames were: “Brave Bessie,” “Queen Bess,” and “The Only Race Aviatrix in the World.” Her goal was to encourage women and African Americans to reach their dreams – and this became her legacy. Though her life and career were cut short in a tragic plane crash, her life and legacy continue to inspire people around the world.
The United States Mint (Mint) 2023 American Women Quarter dollar honoring Bessie Coleman – Rolls and Bags, became available for purchase on February 14. It is part of a four-year series that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women who have shaped history.
The reverse (tails) of this coin features a close-up image of Bessie Coleman as she suits up in preparation for flight, her expression reflective of her determination to take to the skies, the only place she experienced a freedom she did not have on the ground. The inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “QUARTER DOLLAR,” “BESSIE COLEMAN,” and “6.15.1921,” the date Coleman received her pilot’s license.
United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Designer Chris Costello created the reverse design, which United States Mint Medallic Artist Eric David Custer sculpted.
Each coin in this series features a common obverse (heads) design depicting a portrait of George Washington. This design was originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser as a candidate entry for the 1932 quarter, which honored the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. The inscriptions are “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “2023.”