Bessie Coleman Engraved in Jax History with a Marker

Pictured l-r at the historical marker presentation is renowned Jacksonville historian Camilla Thompson, Clarence Evans, Hallie Williams-Bey, Hazel Gillis, George Gillis, Assata Sokonia, and Akela Sokonia.

The Durkeeville Historical Society (DHS) paid tribute to aeronautical pioneer Bessie Coleman with a historical marker placed at the 1926 plane crash site near where Paxon Middle School stands today. The marker was erected at Hammond Park, located at 2142 Melson Avenue.

Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Because flying schools in the United States denied her entry, she taught herself French and moved to France, earning her license in just seven months. Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, earning a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. She remains a pioneer of women in the field of aviation.

The DHS is on a quest to capture the African American experience in Jacksonville celebrating history with historical markers and museum artifacts. To date, markers have been placed throughout the city honoring the first Black police officers, Brewster Hospital, Sugarhill, the Johnson Brothers and Old Stanton High School among others. To participate in this organization that serves as an advocate of local Black history, or to schedule a tour, visit

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