Sunday is Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people in the United States were informed of their freedom, and to celebrate, NASA is premiering a new documentary about Black astronauts. Titled "The Color of Space," it features a roundtable conversation between seven Black current and retired astronauts: Stephanie Wilson, Victor Glover, Jeanette Epps, Leland Melvin, Bernard Harris, Robert Curbeam, and Bobby Satcher, The discussion was moderated by the first Black woman to lead a NASA research center— Vanessa Wyche, director of the Johnson Space Center. Watch it on Sunday starting at noon EDT on NASA TV, the NASA app, NASA social media channels, and, of course, NASA.gov. From NASA:
The documentary also features recordings of conversations between the astronauts and students in middle school, as well as students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The astronauts spoke with the students about the unique path achieved by Black explorers within NASA, offered personal stories of hope and resilience, and gave advice to the future generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers.
"At NASA, we explore space and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity. To do this, we must attract the brightest minds that reflect the American public," said Wyche. "In this documentary, our former and current Black astronauts share their journeys to space and offer personal stories of courage and resilience. I hope this film will inspire all NASA's future engineers, scientists, and explorers to reach for the stars, as we work to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis."
The documentary also includes rare archival footage and interviews with Guion 'Guy' Bluford, the first Black man in space; Charlie Bolden, retired astronaut and first Black NASA administrator; former astronauts Alvin Drew and Joan Higginbotham; and Ed Dwight, America's first African-American astronaut candidate.
Black Americans made contributions to America's space program since before the agency's founding. Although unsung heroes like the Hidden Figures made invaluable contributions to the space program and NASA's overall mission, it took many years for the first Black American to break the color barrier and hold the title of astronaut.