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Bessie Coleman Park and Council

This page is presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks Committee (contact chair Gary Ossewaarde) and its website www.hydepark.org. Support our work, join the Conference.

Bessie Coleman, pioneer aviator

A report on major success

The park at 54th and Ellis (which goes back to urban renewal times,) was renamed in 2004 after pioneer aviatrix and African-American community activist Bessie Coleman, following a public comment process. The District has been naming previously unnamed parks for women important in Chicago life and history. (Did you know there is a Bessie Coleman Society of African-American female aviators? And a biography on sale at local bookstores, Dare to Fly.)

A Bessie Coleman park council was formed in 2005. The group later chose to take the form of a block club. Both before and since, substantial improvements were made in the park in cooperation with the Chicago Park District and others.

A children's book on Bessie Coleman has the heart of the story: Nikki Grimes, Talking About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman. Available at 57th St. Books. Coleman was cameo's on a PBS program in The History Detectives series, sleuthing who built Lindbergh's engine.