Immigration Issues – March 2019

National History Day is an annual project-based contest for students in grades 6-12, and each year more than half a million students participate nationwide. Students choose a historical topic related to the annual theme, and then conduct primary and secondary research.

After analyzing and interpreting their sources, and drawing a conclusion about the significance of their topic, they then present their work in one of five ways: as a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary, or a website.

Pinellas County Schools have participated in this nation-wide event annually for the past 13 years. Last year LWVSPA Immigration Team members volunteered as judges, and this year we added an award.

And the winner is . . . . . 8th grader Michalia Makryllos. The title of her project is “Queen Bess — License to Fly.” Her subject is stunt pilot Bessie Coleman, who earned her pilot’s license in the 1920s. Here is a excerpt from Michalia’s project:

Bessie Coleman was not accepted into flying school in the U.S. because she was a female and black. However Coleman was encouraged by Robert Abbot from the Chicago Defender to go to aviation school in France, as the French were more tolerant of racial differences. Coleman fought racism and sexism to accomplish her dream of being a pilot, which led her to becoming the first female Native American and African American licensed pilot and paved the way for future great African American aviators, both male and female.

When she began stunt performing, she had one demand – everyone entered through one gate… She would not allow segregated entrances or seating at her shows. Unfortunately Bess died at an early age of 34 while practicing for a stunt show.