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Unemployment, The Negro, and Aviation

The following video presents excerpts from the silent film Unemployment, The Negro, and Aviation, which was produced in 1935 by African American aviation pioneer William J. Powell. Powell dreamed of bringing aviation to a wider African American population and wished to make flight an attainable goal for African American youngsters who shared his passion for the skies. The film does much to convey the thrill and glamour of flight, but perhaps more importantly, it places African American pilots in the starring role.

Sources to accompany photo essay

Bragg, Janet Harmon and Marjorie M. Kriz. Soaring Above Setbacks: The Autobiography of Janet Harmon Bragg–African American Aviator (1996).

Briggs, Carole S. Women in Aviation: At the Controls (1991).

Bunch, Lonnie G., III. "In Search of a Dream: The Flight of Herman Banning and Thomas Allen." Journal of American Culture, September 1984.

Bunch, Lonnie G. III. Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles (1988).

Carisella, P.J. and James W. Ryan. The Black Swallow of Death: The Incredible Story of Eugene Jacques Bullard, The World's First Black Combat Pilot (1972).

Cherrix, Kira M. "Janet Harmon Bragg: Female Aviator." The Bigger Picture, 22 March 2001. Available online here.

Chivalette, William I. "Corporal Eugene Jacques Bullard: First Black American Fighter Pilot." Air and Space Power Journal, 2005.

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Hardesty, Von. Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History (2008).

Hart, Philip S. Oral history interviews: Thomas C. Allen, September 1982, Washington, D.C.; Marie Dickerson Coker (member of Bessie Coleman Aero Club), September 1983, Los Angeles, CA; Arthur Freeman (nephew of Bessie Coleman), September 1983, Los Angeles, CA; Edna Gayle (sister of William J. Powell), September 1983, Rialto, CA; Harold Hurd, April 1984, Chicago, Illinois; Cornelius Coffey, April 1984, Chicago, Illinois.

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"Julian, Hubert (1897-1983)." Available online here.

Lambertson, Giles. "The Other Harlem." Air & Space, March 2010.

Lindbergh, Reeve. Nobody Owns the Sky: The Story of Brave Bessie Coleman (1996).

Lloyd, Craig. "Eugene Bullard (1895-1961)." New Georgia Encyclopedia (2013). Available online here.

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Maksel, Rebecca. "The Unrecognized First." Air & Space, March 2011.

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Powell, William J. Black Aviator: The Story of William J. Powell: A New Edition of William J. Powell's Black Wings (1994).

Rich, Doris L. Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator (1993).

Robertson, Stephen. "Hubert Julian in Harlem." Digital Harlem Blog (2011). Available online here.

Shaftel, David. "The Black Eagle of Harlem." Air & Space, January 2009.

Simmons, Thomas E. The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot (2013).

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