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September 30, 2022
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African American Black Firsts Shero Sistory

Janet Harmon Bragg

Soaring Above Setbacks

Soaring above setbacks1

When Americans fell in love with aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, African American found their enthusiasm met with discrimination. In this inspiring account of her life, Janet Harmon Bragg, the first African American woman to earn a full commercial pilot’s license, recalls a life of mutilfacted achievement, in which every obstacle was seen as a challenge.

Review: Soaring Above Setbacks

“Bragg (1907-1993), the youngest of seven children in a Georgia family, never forgot her father’s stock phrase: “If Jack can do it, Jill can do it.” On graduation from college with a degree in nursing, she was appalled at the treatment given black patients in Southern hospitals and so went north, finally settling in Chicago. It was there that she learned to fly in 1934, despite all manner of obstacles erected because of her race and gender. Five years later she aided in the founding of the National Airmen’s Association of America, the first fliers’ group to challenge the whites-only rule, she notes. Partly to finance her aeronautical career, she and her second husband went into the nursing-home business, where they worked until 1972. Meanwhile, her kindness to some Ethiopian exchange students led to an acquaintance with Emperor Haile Selassie. This is the story of a rich, full life.” –Publishers Weekly

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