Coming June 2021
A PAIR OF WINGS
The Life of Pioneer Aviatrix Bessie Coleman
This is an epic novel about the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman. Arriving in Chicago in 1915, Coleman is in the first wave of African Americans to be part of the Great Migration, the largest movement of Black people fleeing the agricultural South towards the promise of opportunity in the North.
By 1921, America was a nation of change, steeped in both turmoil and progress. Jim Crow laws forced segregation in the South, lynchings terrorized, prohibition loomed, and Tulsa, Oklahoma smoldered after being bombed from the air. While American women had just earned the right to vote, Coleman can find no one willing to teach a Black woman to fly. Undaunted, she learns French and travels by ship to France in order to fulfill her dream of earning a brevet. (Carole, this paragraph has two verb tenses. Could we choose one? Your choice!)
As the 1920s progress, Coleman comes of age, and both aviation and the Great Migration continue in parallel. Hardscrabble and burnished, Coleman becomes the only woman in the world to compel these lines of latitude to bend and intersect. Just as she translates deftly from English to French, she also converts wargame maneuvers into daring, graceful and swashbuckling performances which she brings back to the United States. This fearless woman inspires a nation, earning the nicknames Daredevil, Queen Bess and Brave Bessie for her breathtaking airshows.
A full century after her accomplishments, Coleman’s story is brought to life by author Carole Hopson. A United Airlines pilot who flies the Boeing 737, Hopson, considers Bessie Coleman the pioneer who cut the path for her, and believes that it is her job to continue Coleman’s work to make that path wider for those who follow. It’s Coleman’s bold determination and courage that lifted Hopson, as well as an entire people upon A Pair of Wings.