1-8 of 8 Results  for:

  • 1955–1971: Civil Rights Era x
  • Science and Technology x
  • Science and Technology x
Clear all


Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Guion Stewart (Guy) Bluford, Jr. grew up in an educated, middle-class household. His mother was a teacher and his father an inventor and mechanical engineer. The Blufords provided their three sons with an example of personal drive, goal fulfillment, and a strong work ethic. Bluford's interest in space and aviation began in his early childhood, when he constructed model airplanes. He studied math and science in junior high and set his career sights on aerospace engineering.

Bluford assembled an impressive résumé before entering NASA's astronaut program in 1978. He enrolled in the United States Air Force's Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) during college, and he graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1964 with a degree in aerospace engineering. He trained to be a pilot at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. After receiving his pilot wings in 1965 Bluford served in ...


Aaron Myers

Frederick Gregory made his first space flight in 1985, two years after Guion Bluford became the first African American in space. On his first mission, Gregory served as a pilot and, in collaboration with sixteen other crewmembers, conducted various medical experiments. In 1989 Gregory capitalized on Bluford's historic achievement by becoming the first black space commander.

Born in Washington, D.C., Gregory showed an early interest in flying. Gregory's father, an educator, and his uncle, Dr. Charles Drew, who conducted pioneering blood plasma research in the late 1930s, inspired and encouraged him. After graduating from Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., however, Gregory had difficulty securing the sponsorship of a congressperson, which was required for admission to the United States Air Force Academy. Determined to help Gregory realize his dream, his father convinced New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell, to nominate his son.

Gregory was an experienced ...


Amar Wahab

astronaut, was the only child born to Francis Anderson Gregory and Nora Drew Gregory, both educators, in Washington, D.C. Following a decorated career in the US Air Force, Gregory became the first African American to pilot and then command a space shuttle.

Education was highly valued in Gregory's family: his maternal uncle, Charles Drew, was a physician and medical researcher who developed blood banks in World War II; and although his father earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), career discrimination forced him to become a teacher instead. While Gregory's Anacostia neighborhood was integrated when he was a child, D.C.'s school system was not, and he was bused to Mott Elementary School and Banneker Junior High School. Following the 1954Brown v. Board of Education ruling when he was in eighth grade Gregory transferred to the integrated Sousa Junior High ...


Adam W. Green

was the second of three children born to Bernard Anthony Harris, Sr., a former Army service member, and Gussie H. Emanual, a teacher, in Temple, Texas. After working as a flight surgeon and researching musculoskeletal weakness, Harris became the first African American to walk in space.

Harris spent his first six years living near The Heights, a working-class neighborhood outside of Houston, until his parents divorced. His mother took the three young children—Bernard, older sister, Gillette, and younger brother, Dennis—to Temple in central Texas to stay with Harris’s maternal grandmother, before moving to Waco. Gussie worked as a cook at a diner until finding a job as an educator for a Navajo reservation, which she procured through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She moved to the Greasewood, Arizona site, and worked there for six months before buying a car to bring out her three children.

Harris lived in a reservation ...


Courtney L. Young

astronaut and educator. Mae Jemison is best known as the first African American woman in space, but this simple statement does not speak adequately to the greatness of her attributes and skills. Born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama, Jemison, with her mother, her father, and two older siblings, moved to Chicago in 1959. Jemison was deeply interested in science and nature. She cultivated that interest independently by reading evolutionary theory and astronomy, as well as in the classroom by taking classes in biology, chemistry, and physics. An honors student, Jemison graduated from Morgan Park High School in 1973. That fall she attended Stanford University on a National Achievements Scholarship. She earned both her BS in chemical engineering and a second bachelor's degree in Afro-American studies in 1977. Jemison then went to Cornell University Medical School, where she earned her MD in 1981 She completed her ...


The daughter of Charlie and Dorothy Jemison, a maintenance supervisor and schoolteacher in Decatur, Alabama, Mae Carol Jemison was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1973 at the age of sixteen, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship. Jemison graduated in 1977 with two concurrent bachelor's degrees, in chemical engineering and African/Afro-American studies. She then entered Cornell Medical School, graduating in 1981 and interning in Los Angeles, California.

Jemison joined the Peace Corps in January 1983 and worked as a medical officer in West Africa through July 1985. In 1987 she was accepted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an astronaut candidate, one of fifteen who were accepted from among 2,000 applicants. She completed a one-year training and evaluation program in August 1988 and became a science mission specialist helping prepare the space shuttles for ...


Monique M. Chism

One such feat occurred on 12 September 1992, when she soared to new heights on the space shuttle Endeavor and became the first African American woman to venture into outer space.

The youngest of three children, Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Charlie and Dorothy Jemison, a maintenance supervisor at United Charities of Chicago and an elementary schoolteacher, respectively. From a young age Jemison dreamed of traveling into outer space, despite the fact that the astronaut corps did not accept American women until 1970 Determined to provide Jemison and her older sister and brother Ada and Charles with opportunities not afforded in the South her family moved to Chicago Illinois in search of a better quality of life At Morgan Park High School she was given the opportunity to explore a variety of areas that captivated her attention Jemison was academically intrigued and stimulated by ...


Alonford James Robinson

Ronald McNair was born in Lake City, South Carolina. Despite a background of poverty and segregation, he earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976. After working as a physicist at Hughes Research Laboratories, he became a mission specialist astronaut with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1978. On February 3, 1984, he made his first space flight, and became the second African American (after Guy Bluford) to go into space. His second flight was on the space shuttle Challenger. This flight ended in tragedy when Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after takeoff on January 28, 1986. McNair and the six other astronauts on board died in the explosion. His father, Carl McNair, has created a fund for the Ron McNair Science Playground in New York City.