Riots to Renaissance: Janet Harmon-Bragg

Janet Harmon-Bragg

Janet Harmon-Bragg (1907-1993) was working as a health inspector in Chicago when she decided that she wanted to learn to fly. She later reported that she had been inspired by a billboard displaying a bird and its fledglings which read, "Birds Learn to Fly. Why Can't You?" That was her defining moment. In 1933, she enrolled in Aeronautical University ground school, where she studied under Johnny Robinson and Cornelius Coffey. She joined Coffey, Robinson, and other black students from the university in founding the Challenger Aero Club. Harmon-Bragg received her private pilot's license in the mid- 1930s and later attained her commercial license. Like Willa Brown, she was significant in promoting the work of black aviators. In the 1930s, she wrote "Negro Aviation," a weekly column in the Chicago Defender. Although she continued to fly as a hobby, Harmon-Bragg later returned to her career as a health inspector and then became the successful owner of nursing homes.