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Bessie Coleman: "World's Greatest Woman Flyer"

Bessie Coleman: "World's Greatest Woman Flyer"
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.93

     challenging words:    demeaning, laundress, manicurist, stalled, housekeeper, spite, sponsor, refused, killing, aircraft, vibrant, crashed, dreams, especially, founder, wherever
     content words:    Bessie Coleman, Native American, When Bessie, Chicago Defender, Robert Abbott, New York City, Queen Bess, In Chicago, Bessie Coleman Aero Club, Los Angeles

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Bessie Coleman: "World's Greatest Woman Flyer"
By Mary Lynn Bushong

1     What would it take to stop you from reaching your dreams? Bessie Coleman had a dream. She wanted to fly, but no one would teach her because she was a black woman. She searched until she found a way. She refused to let anyone stop her dream.
2     When Bessie Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas, in 1892, life was not easy. She was the tenth of what would be thirteen children. Her father was mostly Native American, while her mother was black. When Bessie was nine, her father left the family and returned to Oklahoma.
3     Bessie's mother went to work as a cook and housekeeper while Bessie watched her younger sisters. Her older brothers left home to seek their fortunes.
4     As a small child, Bessie showed a real gift for working with numbers. She managed the family money for her mother.
5     In spite of living four miles from the nearest school, she attended class every day. She walked to school every day. She borrowed books from the library and read them to her family at night.
6     Bessie was determined to be someone some day. She studied and worked hard, saving any money she earned. She attended college for only one year before her money ran out. Bessie returned home again and worked as a laundress.
7     In 1915, she moved to Chicago to live with one of her brothers. She won the notice of the Chicago Defender newspaper by winning a contest as the best and fastest manicurist in the city.
8     When another of her brothers returned home from WWI, he teased her about how much better French women were than she was. They were so free they could even become pilots.
9     The idea of becoming a pilot ignited Bessie's imagination. In a time when few white women learned to fly, no one would teach a black woman.

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