Buzz Aldrin and the First African Americans in Space

Stephen talks with Steven Moss, co-author of “We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program,” and WDET’s Pat Batcheller talks with Lunar Pioneer Buzz Aldrin.


There was a huge connection from the civil rights movement to the space program, according to Moss.  He says Executive Order 10925, enacted in 1961 by President Kennedy, ended discrimination in hiring for federal contractors. “With NASA coming in roughly at the same time, the economic argument against segregation really hit hard in the deep south,” Moss says.


African Americans found relative safety working at NASA, but once they left work, all bets were off, Moss says. “Once they leave the grounds…you’re subject to all of the injustices that any other African American would face. There’s no workplace protection on the highway.”


Buzz Aldrin says he  feels that our space program needs another chance. “It needs tremendous rejuvenating,” says Aldrin, “both in the minds of the federal government and the minds of the people.” He believes that we should be “emphasizing the younger generation,” because they will be performing missions in the future.


Aldrin says he is happy to work with the next administration on the space program, adding that he was ”very enthusiastic on informing the next president,” and hopes that whoever becomes the next president will establish a national holiday memorializing the Apollo program’s legacy.


To hear more of Stephen and Pat’s conversations, click the link above.


Image credit: Bryan Tong Minh

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