Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning play ‘Queen Bess’ honors African American female aviator Bessie Coleman

Photo by the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning

As part of a celebration of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning will be putting on a play celebrating the life and career of trailblazing African American female aviator Bessie Coleman from Feb. 23 to March 4. Titled “Queen Bess (The Bessie Coleman Story),” the full-length play was created by Tommie Moore.

Coleman was the first African American and Native American woman to earn an international pilot’s license. Throughout her career, she strived to encourage both women and African Americans to pursue their dreams, just as she had.

After returning from serving in World War I, one of Coleman’s brothers told her stories about France allowing women to fly planes. These stories, as well as those from the war about pilots, inspired her to pursue a career in the field, despite the fact women were not allowed to fly planes in the United States at the time. She eventually had an application accepted by a flight school in France, receiving her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921, from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale before returning to the United States.

The playwright, Tommie Moore, is the founder of “Dare to be Black Corp.,” a company that educates and protects the legacies of African American icons through theater and film. In addition to being a playwright, he is a screenwriter, director and actor, having performed in more than 30 plays.

The play was originally supposed to have its regional debut in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to it.

There will be a total of six shows put on, one each on Feb. 23, 24 and 25 and March 2, 3 and 4. Each show is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Tickets are now on sale for $10 per person.