Heroes Who Fly: NaPoWriMo

 “Because of Bessie Coleman, we have overcome that which was worse than racial barriers. We have overcome the barriers within ourselves and dared to dream.”

–Lieutenant William J. Powell

“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”

–Bessie Coleman


She saw the sky,

and she wanted to fly

far from the Texas cotton fields

and one-room school

she was smart, nobody’s fool

she wanted to fly,

high amidst the clouds


She dared to dream

and so, she schemed

worked and saved and moved away

took flight,

to the City of Light,

a woman of color,

An American in Paris,

her life would have been safe, but duller

if she had stayed at home, somehow smaller,

unable to achieve her American dream


Yet once she was trained

could fly up and around,

she was beloved, renowned

for her daring and skill,

for her will

to achieve

despite her gender

despite her race

(though she had stepped from her place)

Queen Bess they called her

as she performed

confronting danger

and perhaps placed a wager

as they sat and cheered

because they knew

knew what she could do

when she saw the sky

and wanted to fly


And we need heroes who soar,

to adore,

heroes who persist

heroes who resist

prejudice and hate

to show us it can be done

that evil hasn’t won,

we need heroes who reach for the sky,

who place hope and desire
on their outstretched wings,

who dream a dream,

and fly


This is Day 21, NaPoWriMo. I’m off-prompt. Back in January, Bessie Coleman (1892-1926) was featured in a Google Doodle. She was the first woman of African-American descent and the first woman of Native American descent to become a licensed pilot.





17 thoughts on “Heroes Who Fly: NaPoWriMo

  1. This was really beautifully expressed, Merril. It was a truly inspiring story told through a lyrical format! I have always admired the female pilots, my Aunt Amelia (Mom’s sister) had me dreaming of the skies because of her name. Despite her name, she realized her grounded dream of teaching challenging calculus and algebra to rural high schoolers. 🙂

    • Thank you, Robin. I had told my older daughter I was going to write a poem about Bessie Coleman after the doodle was put up, but it took a while for it to happen. 🙂
      Your aunt had an important job, even if she stayed on the ground.

      • Oh, I know she is an amazing woman! She and my Uncle Orrin are in their 80’s and do incredible service for inner city people, shoes, coats, sandwiches, water bottles and they preach their beliefs.
        My uncle did upset my Dad in his taking a black marker to his H.S. Biology books, eliminating dinosaurs and evolution. Later in life, my Dad and uncle stopped talking about their “opposite viewpoints” and love, family and enjoying the lake where Dad and Mom lived were common ground subjects. As my Dad had faith, it hurt me for quite some time how they “judged” his way of looking at the things he admired. My Dad often said (he wouldn’t back down or ignore) “My God would be a pretty small god, if he couldn’t expand time and space.” 🙂

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