January 26, 2017
Today a dear friend (thanks Harriette), sent me a text message to tell me about the 125th birthday anniversary of Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot license and moreover, an international pilot license. A sense of pride overwhelmed me as I read an account of this remarkable woman who despite all odds, achieved what was unthinkable. In the early 1920’s she traveled to France where she studied and earned a pilot and international pilot’s license. That opportunity was not available to her in the United States because of the color of her skin and the fact that she was female. I urge you to read about Ms. Bessie Coleman and her amazing achievements at https://www.google.com/doodles/bessie-colemans-125th-birthday.
Impressed by the determination, bravery and intellect of Ms. Coleman, she is in the company of other great women in the field of aeronautics. I recently learned about a group of exceptionally talented African American mathematicians whose skill with numbers was fundamental to the success of the NASA space program. After seeing Hidden Figures, the movie about these phenomenal women, I was on an emotional cloud nine. Extremely proud of all these women, there was an added boost of excitement when I discovered that one of the ladies, Mrs. Katherine Johnson is from my home state of West Virginia. In addition, Mrs. Mary Jackson another “human computer” and others attended my Alma mater, Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), Hampton, VA. Not to mention that the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory where they worked was located in Hampton.
In spite of the obstacles of racial and gender discrimination and the disparaging social climate that was not kind to women of color, these great women decided to soar, and soar they did. Even though the law, written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken precluded open and free access to public accommodations and the usual amenities of basic living, their mathematical genius demanded color blindness as they were sought out and hired for their educational acumen. NASA had to guarantee that the astronauts’ journey to outer space was successful and that they got back home safely. To quote from the book, Hidden Figures, “…John Glenn trusted Katherine Johnson…’Get the girl to check the numbers,’ said the astronaut. ‘ If she says the numbers are good’, he told them, ‘I’m ready to go.’”
So let the stories of these women help us to see beyond the clouds and propel us onward and upward. The God of the heavens and of the earth has placed greatness in you. Use any obstacles, problems or barriers as stepping stones to the next level in fulfilling your purpose. As you taxi down the runway to your launching pad of realizing your dreams and your goals, nothing should deter you. Not only are you to soar but you will help others do the same to arrive safely toward their destiny. Just do the math. The figures add up and equal success.
You have been cleared for take-off–booster, ignition and liftoff…
So, are you ready to go? Then, what are you waiting for?