In search of Bessie Coleman. Chicago, June 19 2014
Alas Bessie Coleman was not on display at the Dusable Museum of African American history in Chicago. And there were only a couple of mentions of the Tuskagee Airmen. They are all touring in an exhibit called “Black Wings.”
Turns out curator Charles Bethea’s grandfather was involved in setting up one of the first African American airfields in Maryland, and will share more about that with me at a later date via email. (Coz I’ll be quizzing him for sure!)
So no Bessie and not much aviation, but what an education I had.
Charles asked me was I enjoying the exhibition. “No, that’s not the right word,” I said. He agreed, and suggested “Moved by” would better describe it. He was exactly right. It was a powerful and profound experience and I’m so glad I went. Some of the exhibits and displays moved me to tears, and I was deeply affected by the courage and the grace displayed by many people in the stories told there. And appalled by the inhumanity also on display.
Near the exit there’s a poem by co-founder Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs. She asks what will your legacy be? And points out that we all have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, whatever that is.
Food for thought indeed.
If you get a chance to visit, go.