Two of America’s first Black flight attendants reveal their stories of the unfriendly skies

They were not the very first African American flight attendants in history, but Linda McQueen and Bertha Tease were certainly among the first ones. Their new book, Taking Flight: Two Black Women in the Unfriendly Skies, tells the story of the racial discrimination and persecution they faced while simply trying to work the job of their dreams in the early 1970s.

Taking Flight opens by painting the picture of life in the 1950s and ’60s. It takes readers on a voyage from listening to radio shows like Milton Berle and “Amos and Andy” to watching programs and actually seeing Black people on TV.

This book then chronicles how they overcame the odds and rose to the positions they desired. In the face of early racism, discrimination and denial, they were able to fly the skies and meet celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, The Jacksons, OJ Simpson, Stevie Wonder, Dick Gregory, Ray Charles and so many more. Taking Flight is a voyage through history and a story of triumph.

About Linda McQueen:
Linda McQueen’s story of growing up in the ’50s and ’60s went from huddling around the radio listening to stories, to actually watching the people she had been listening to on the newly invented television. From keeping her food cold in an icebox, to having a real refrigerator. From eventually getting her dream job, to having to fight to get it back after a near-fatal accident.

About Bertha Tease:
Bertha Tease’s story starts in North Carolina with the various challenges her family had to endure. She comes from a family of 22. Her mother had 20 children, 10 boys and 10 girls. Her parents struggled to make ends meet. After getting the job she wanted, Bertha was harassed about her weight after she had her baby. She fought back and filed a lawsuit with E.E.O.C. and won! The weight standards were changed because of this. Not just for her airline, but for all airlines.

Their stories are about struggle, strength and getting the jobs they prayed for, then fighting to keep them against all odds!