John Riley submitted this report from the Bessie Coleman quarter launch ceremony. Thank you!
On Saturday, February 18, 2023, several members of the Chicago Coin Club attended the formal
unveiling ceremony of the Bessie Coleman reverse in the series of American Women quarter dollars. The U.S. Mint shared the dias with the DuSable Black History and Education Center staff in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and the public was welcomed. The DuSable museum is a Smithsonian associate organization.
As described in the Mint's promotional literature, Bessie Coleman was
an aviator, advocate, and pioneer who flew to great heights as the first African American and the first Native American woman pilot, as well as the first African American to earn an international pilot's license.
Michelle Krefski Thompson, Program Management Specialist with the U.S. Mint, gave an overview of the multi year American Women Quarters program - and emphasized the unique artistry and inspirational stories that accompany each issue. Thompson credited designer Chris Costello's innovative design and collaboration with Bessie Coleman's family to perfectly capture the spirit of the tragic young flier. Thompson pointed out the unique nature of the portrait, a combination from known images as well as creative inspiration gleaned from the family - the final image not based on an existing pose.
Thompson also explained to the crowd the story of the quarter's obverse rendition of George Washington and its long-overdue appearance from sculptor Laura Gardin Frazier's 1932 National design contest submission.
A special treat for the audience was given by Bessie Coleman's great niece, Gigi Coleman, who gave a wonderful performance as Bessie herself. She walked the audience through the aviator's life, from birth into a poor sharecropping family in Texas to migration to Chicago in the 1910's where she worked as a beautician - Bessie Coleman was fortunate to have mentors and influences in her Chicago years, including young African American veterans returning from WWI France who opened Bessie's eyes to the larger world and the possibilities of imagination and effort - despite the naysayers who would tell her the idea of a young African American girl flying an airplane was an impossibility. It would take travel to Paris, where her international pilot's license was granted on June 15, 1921, as permanently memorialized on the new coin. Bessie Coleman would tragically be killed in a Jacksonville, Florida exhibition trick flight in 1926, her mother remarking,
she died doing what she loved.
The afternoon ended with a gift of the mint, a new quarter dollar coin from either the Philadelphia or Denver mints in a special 2023 insert card.
Special thanks to the U.S. Mint and to Chicago's DuSable Black History and Education Center for providing a meaningful, enjoyable and most inspirational afternoon.
For more information, see:
Bessie Coleman Quarter
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster