Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Aug 31, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Honoring Bessie Coleman

a line drawing illustration of Bessie Coleman wearing her pilot’s helmet
An illustration of Bessie Coleman.

In June 1921, Bessie Coleman became the first African American woman to earn an international pilot’s license. Bessie Coleman learned to fly in France, because no flying schools in the United States would admit an African American woman. In honor of the anniversary of Coleman’s achievement, American Airlines operated a flight with the first entirely African American female crew. This included pilots, flight attendants, the cargo team, customer service personnel, and the maintenance team. On board was a very special passenger: Gigi Coleman, Bessie Coleman’s grandniece.   

The flight took off from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, near where Coleman grew up. It landed in Phoenix, Arizona, where Coleman once performed in an air show.  Coleman performed at countless air shows during her piloting career. She was an advocate for other African Americans who wanted to fly and refused to perform anywhere that wouldn’t admit people of color. She died on April 30, 1926, in a plane crash in Jacksonville, Florida, at the age of 34. Her life and contributions have been honored in many ways. Most recently, she will be featured on a 2023 quarter as part of the American Women Quarters Program. 

After the American Airlines flight landed, several crew members met with local high school students to tell them about possible careers in aviation. Less than one percent of people working in today’s aviation field are African American women. Ninety-three percent of pilots and flight engineers are white, and only 5.3 percent of pilots and flight engineers are women.  

Dig Deeper What programs, grants, or other initiatives are airlines taking part in to increase diversity in their field? Use Internet resources to learn more and write a paragraph about what you find. 

California Phases Out Gas-Powered Cars

Did you know that transportation vehicles emit the most greenhouse gases in the U.S. every year? In 2020, transportation created about 27 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. California has decided to take a drastic step toward reducing those emissions with a new policy that will halt the production of gas-powered cars. The new law will require that all new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in California must be electric or hydrogen-powered by 2035.  

This doesn’t mean that gas-powered cars will disappear altogether. The plan moves in stages. The first goal is for one-third of all new cars sold to be electric by 2026. People who already own a gas-fueled vehicle will still be able to drive it, even after 2035. People will also be able to purchase used gas-powered cars. 

This plan presents some challenges. California is the seventh-largest oil producing state in the country, so this change could hurt the economy in parts of the state. Also, more electric vehicle charging stations are needed to accommodate so many electric vehicles. California wants to have 250,000 charging stations in place by 2025, but it currently has only 80,000. Adding so many new chargers could put a strain on the state’s power grid. 

What Do You Think? After transportation, what do you think are the next three highest sources of greenhouse gas emissions? Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website or another online resource to check your answers. 

Dr. Fauci to Retire

Many Americans were introduced to Dr. Anthony Fauci during the COVID-19 pandemic. For 38 years, Dr. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID. Now he has announced that he will be stepping down from his role in December 2022. Dr. Fauci will also be stepping down from his role as Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden. 

Dr. Fauci served under seven U.S. presidents and is the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases. He advised presidential administrations during global outbreaks of the Ebola virus, the West Nile virus, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19. He has helped presidents and American citizens better understand complex scientific concepts. He also had a knack for engaging activists as well as fellow scientists and government officials. He has faced criticism for his advice during times of crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his recommendations to close restaurants and businesses, cancel large gatherings, and wear masks in public were unpopular among some Americans.  

Although Dr. Fauci is stepping down from his governmental role, he plans to continue working in the field of public health. 

Dig Deeper When did Dr. Fauci become director of NIAID? What global health crisis did Dr. Fauci help manage during that time?