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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 ...

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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 ...