Women with Jacksonville ties leave an inspiring legacy for future generations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As part of the Month of Women’s History, News4Jax sheds light on several historians with connections to the river city.

I’ve spoken to historians about the impact of two women who have reached new heights in very different ways.

“The first black woman aviator,” said Mitch Hemann, senior archivist for the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and the first Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license.

She was born in Texas to tenants and received her pilot training in France.

“She only held her airshows when the audience was integrated and everyone was allowed to enter through the same gate. She insisted on that before she appeared, ”said Hemann.

This was a great accomplishment for a woman of color in the 1920s. Their final air show would bring Coleman to River City.

During a test flight for the upcoming show, a mechanical problem with the plane caused a crash that threw Coleman off the plane to his death.


She was just 34 years old.

Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman and the first Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license.

“What an incredible life she had in such a short time. She really inspired a lot of people. So many people have done really great things, it’s a pretty extraordinary thing, ”said Hemann.

While Coleman made history in the sky, Henrietta Dozier made her mark on the skyline.

“Henrietta Dozier was Jacksonville’s first and most important architect. She graduated from MIT School of Architecture in 1899 when it was a rarity for a woman to go to architecture school, ”said Dr. Wayne Wood, historian with the Jacksonville Historical Society.

Dozier was born in Fernandina Beach.

In 1914, she started her own practice and built many buildings across the River City that have been preserved to this day.

“A lot of people have named their cousin Harry. And she often wore trousers and a hard hat to work so that she would not stand out and be discriminated against, ”said Dr. Wayne Wood. “Many of their buildings are on our list of historic landmarks. So your work stands out. Although she wasn’t extraordinarily creative when compared to some other architects, and the work she still kept with us, which is an integral part of Jacksonville’s architectural heritage, was not extraordinarily productive. “


Both Coleman and Dozier were the first women in their field, but certainly not the last.

Paving the way for generations of women in the past, present and future.

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