This exhibit highlights some of the men and women who worked behind the scenes at NACA/NASA, to make America’s early space missions possible. They worked as engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and technicians, overcoming racial obstacles of the time to broaden black participation in space exploration. It was during the mid-1970s, when Ron McNair, Guy Bluford, and Fred Gregory became the first black astronaut trainees for NASA.
Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut, is the only person drafted into the National Football League (NFL), who has flown in outer space. Leland also served as co-program manager of the Educator Astronaut program, which connected space exploration with the classroom to inspire the next generation of explorers. While an astronaut, he served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122 and as a mission specialist 1 on STS-129.
Katherine Johnson was a mathematician, whose career spanned over 35 years with NASA. Johnson’s groundbreaking scientific achievements were portrayed in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”, where it depicted how she calculated and analyzed the trajectory of many spaceflights; including the space flights of astronaut Alan Shepherd and John Glenn, as well as for the Apollo 11 flight to the moon where Neil Armstrong took his first lunar step.
Mae C. Jemison is an engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Jemison, is a strong advocate for science and established an international science camp for high school students. She is pursuing to get more women and girls into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
TIBIT’s exhibits instill pride and increase cultural awareness by providing a better understanding of the historic African American experience. With your support and donation, we can continue to bring these experiences to more people around the country.
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