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David De Clue

astronaut, was born Michael Phillip Anderson in Plattsburgh, New York, to Barbara and Andy “Bobby” Anderson. Because his father was a member of the United States Air Force, young Anderson moved regularly until the family settled in Spokane, Washington, in the 1960s. It was there that he attended public schools and became fascinated with America's space race. Michael would wear goggles when cutting lawns because he knew that he needed to protect his eyes in order to be an astronaut.

After high school Anderson went to the University of Washington, where in 1981 he received a bachelor of science degree in Physics and Astronomy, and then went to Creighton University, where he received a master of science degree in Physics in 1990 As an undergraduate he received pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and as a postgraduate he piloted KC 130 and T 38 transport ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called African Americans in Aviation in Arizona, Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Janet's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Janet's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. The youngest of seven children, Janet had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called “African Americans in Aviation in Arizona,” Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children were allowed to attend any church they chose They were ...

Article

Betty Kaplan Gubert

Brown, Willa (22 January 1906–18 July 1992), pilot and aviation educator, was born Willa Beatrice Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, the only daughter of Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown and Eric B. Brown, a farm owner. After 1910 the family, as part of the internal migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, hoping for greater opportunities in employment and education. There her father worked in a creosote factory; he was also pastor of the Holy Triumphant Church in 1920 and the Free Church of God in 1929.

At Wiley High School Brown was one of only seven black students in the 100 member chorus During her high school years she also did part time domestic work Brown graduated in 1923 and entered Indiana State Normal School a teacher training school that is now part of Indiana University She majored in ...

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Betty Kaplan Gubert

pilot and aviation educator, was born Willa Beatrice Brown in Glasgow, Kentucky, the only daughter of Hallie Mae Carpenter and Eric B. Brown, a farm owner. After 1910 the family, as part of the migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern cities, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, hoping for greater opportunities in employment and education. There her father worked in a creosote factory. He was also pastor of the Holy Triumphant Church in 1920 and of the Free Church of God in 1929.

At Wiley High School, Brown was one of only seven black students in the hundred-member chorus. During her high school years she also did part-time domestic work. Brown graduated in 1923 and entered Indiana State Normal School a teacher training school that later became part of Indiana University She majored in business minored in French and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Willa Brown was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, to Reverend Eric and Hallie Mae Carpenter Brown. Willa lived briefly in Indianapolis, Indiana, but she spent most of her childhood in Terre Haute, where she graduated from Sarah Scott Junior High School in 1920 and from Wiley High School in 1923.

Brown received her B.S. degree in business from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927. After graduating, she taught public school in Gary, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, where she developed an interest in aviation.

In 1935 Brown received a master mechanics certificate from the Aeronautical University in Chicago, and three years later received a private pilot's license by passing her exam with a nearly flawless score of 96 percent. In 1937 she earned an M.B.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and in 1940 she earned a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) ground school instructor's rating.

After ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

Article

Osire Glacier

the first female pilot in Morocco and the Maghreb, was born into a bourgeois family in Fez on 14 December 1936. Her father, Abdelwahed Chaoui, was an avant-garde journalist and an actor who wanted his daughter to have an exemplary education, including training in Arabic and French and in Moroccan and Western cultures (Morocco was at the time a French protectorate). From her childhood, she distinguished herself by her exceptional intelligence, impressing her teachers as well as the director of her school.

In addition to her success in school Chaoui demonstrated strong leadership skills When she was seven years old she organized a strike in her school to protest against the violence of the colonial authorities She made her young peers promise that they would not return to their classrooms until the French authorities liberated the students who had been arrested in a public demonstration in favor of Morocco ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Elizabeth Coleman, later known as Bessie, was born in Atlanta, Texas. Her mother, Susan Coleman, was African American, and her father, George Coleman, was one-quarter African American and three-quarters Choctaw Indian. While Coleman was still an infant her family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, but a few years later her father returned to an Indian reservation in the Oklahoma Territory. Coleman's mother was left to care for the large family by picking cotton and doing domestic work. Susan Coleman enlisted Bessie's help in these jobs; in return, Bessie was allowed to save the wages she earned to help finance her college education.

Coleman finished high school, but the money she had saved was only enough to pay for one semester at the Colored Agricultural Normal University in Langston, Oklahoma (later Langston University). Coleman left the university for Chicago, Illinois where two of her brothers lived There ...

Article

Constance Porter Uzelac

aviator, was born Elizabeth Coleman in Atlanta, Texas, the daughter of George Coleman, a day laborer of predominantly Indian descent, and Susan (maiden name unknown), an African American domestic and farmworker. While Bessie was still very young, the family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, where they built a three-room house on a quarter-acre of land. She was seven when her father left his family to return to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Coleman household was Baptist, and Bessie was an avid reader who became particularly interested in Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. After finishing high school, she studied for one semester at Langston Industrial College, in Langston, Oklahoma.

Between 1912 and 1917 Coleman joined her two brothers in Chicago where she studied manicuring at Burnham s School of Beauty Culture and worked at the White Sox Barber Shop She supplemented her income ...

Article

Elizabeth Hadley Freydberg

Born in Atlanta, Texas Elizabeth Coleman was the twelfth of thirteen children Her mother Susan Coleman was African American Her father George Coleman was three quarters Choctaw Indian and one quarter African While Bessie was still a toddler the Coleman family moved to Waxahachie Texas an agricultural and trade center that produced cotton grain and cattle The town was about thirty miles south of Dallas and was recognized as the cotton capital of the West There the Coleman family made a living from picking cotton George Coleman built a three room house on a quarter acre of land but by the time Bessie was seven years old he had returned to Choctaw country in Oklahoma Susan Coleman continued to raise nine children alone as she also continued to harvest in the fields pick cotton and do domestic work to make ends meet When the children became old enough usually ...

Article

Adam Rosen

astronaut and United States Navy Captain, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, one of four children of Yvonne Evans and Robert Lee Curbeam, a longtime employee of the Western Electric Company, an electrical engineering corporation later absorbed into Lucent Technologies. In addition to accruing over 3,000 flight hours (including 900 in space) in multiple aircraft and spacecraft, as of 2012, Curbeam held the record for most spacewalks (four) in a single shuttle mission, which he completed as a crew member of the Discovery shuttle in December 2006.

Curbeam was raised in the Baltimore area, and graduated from Woodlawn High School in suburban Baltimore County in 1980. He matriculated at the United States Naval Academy, and earned a degree in aerospace engineering in 1984 Immediately after college graduation Curbeam reported to Naval Flight Officer training for instruction In contrast to Naval Aviators NFOs do not actually fly ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

Article

Richlyn Faye Goddard

physician and aviation pioneer, was born in Nassau, Bahamas, one of six children of Horatio A. Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Maude Bynloss. During his childhood, the family lived in Jamaica, West Indies, where Forsythe received his early education. When he arrived in America in 1912 to attend Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, his original intention was to study architecture, but as a student of George Washington Carver, he switched his focus to a career in medicine. After graduating from Tuskegee, he attended McGill University Medical School in Montreal, Canada, and in 1930 he earned his medical degree as Doctor of Public Health. Forsythe performed his postgraduate work at Providence Hospital in Chicago, Seaview Sanatorium in New York, and Douglass Hospital in Philadelphia. He moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he began to concentrate on flying airplanes, a dream he had harbored since childhood.

Forsythe took ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Forsythe, Albert Edward (25 February 1897–04 May 1986), aviator and physician, was born in Nassau, the Bahamas, the son of Horatio Alexander Forsythe, a civil engineer, and Lillian Maud Byndloss Forsythe. When he was three, the family moved to Jamaica. His mother died of pneumonia while Forsythe was a child. His father soon remarried, eventually fathering thirteen children. The family was comfortably middle class, employing several servants. A gifted student, Forsythe attended the Titchfield School, where he excelled in mathematics. When he was fourteen, the headmaster of the school recommended that he be sent to England to complete his education. His father preferred to send him to Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, an institution founded by Booker T. Washington to educate African Americans.

Arriving in the United States Forsythe was met in Miami by relatives who cautioned him about segregation in the South Blacks could not use ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

astronaut, was born Joan Elizabeth Miller Higginbotham in Chicago, Illinois, to Inez and William Higginbotham. She graduated from Chicago's highly selective Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 1982, one year after future First Lady Michelle Obama. Higginbotham, who had excelled in math and science in high school, then entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1987. She had not grown up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or even of working in the space industry. Indeed, it was not until 1983, when Higginbotham was an undergraduate, that the first American woman, Sally Ride, and the first African American man, Guion S. Bluford, entered space. (Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was the first woman in space, twenty years earlier, in 1963 while the first person of African descent in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Ménde ...