A new NASA documentary showcasing the accomplishments of many black astronauts will premiere Sunday, June 19, during June 19.
The 50-minute documentary, titled “The Color of Space,” will be available from 12 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). You can see it in the video above, or on NASA TV, the NASA app, NASA social media channels, and the agency’s website. (opens in a new tab).
A free in-person screening will also take place at Howard University in Washington on Saturday at 7 p.m. local time; details on registration and activities are available on this site (opens in a new tab).
“Anchoring the documentary is a powerful and thought-provoking conversation between seven current and former black astronauts, each of whom was selected to serve in NASA’s astronaut corps and train for missions in space. “, agency officials wrote Thursday, June 16. announcement (opens in a new tab) on the documentary.
Related: NASA’s 1st black administrator Charles Bolden speaks out on systemic racism
Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the practical end of slavery in the United States. It falls on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, commemorating the emancipation of 250,000 slaves in Texas who were freed after a Union army took control of the previously Confederate-held state, according to the Smithsonian. Institution. (opens in a new tab)
This event occurred two years after the Thirteenth Amendment of 1863 abolished most forms of slavery in the United States; The Confederate States ignored the amendment throughout the Civil War, which was unfolding at that time.
The positive moment of Juneteenth, however, was followed by many difficult decades in the black community. Some of the many examples included institutions closing off access to forms of wealth such as home ownership and bank accounts, with the Jim Crow era of so-called “separate but equal” facilities resulting in long-term underfunding in black communities, violence and threats against black individuals and other forms of systemic racism persisting in the present.
The documentary includes many black personalities within NASA commemorating black accomplishments in space exploration. It also premieres at a historic time for the black community, as Jessica Watkins completes the first long-term stay by a black astronaut on the International Space Station.
The conversation of seven astronauts featured in the documentary includes current NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Victor Glover and Jeanette Epps, as well as retired astronauts Bernard Harris, Robert Curbeam, Bobby Satcher and Leland Melvin.
Melvin has previously spoken about the racism he faced as a young footballer and how if things had turned out differently, he might have ended up in jail instead of NASA.
These astronauts “talked about their travels and motivations” at a March 25 event at Space Center Houston, NASA said. The panel was moderated by NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, the first black woman to lead a NASA center.
Other black astronauts are also featured, the agency said. 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, the first African American-American astronaut candidate,” NASA said.
(Bluford was America’s first black astronaut in space, but didn’t fly until 1983, even though the space program began flying people in 1961.)
In a 2020 Space.com interview, Bolden addressed the systemic racism he faced throughout his career and, among many other measures, called for greater representation in the astronaut office both by “women and minorities”.
Black American contributions to the space program go back decades. The “Hidden Figures,” who were black NASA engineers and mathematicians in the 1950s and 1960s, made crucial contributions to the agency’s early years.
Among recent black milestones in space, NASA astronaut Victor Glover became the first black astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in 2020-21 and Inspiration4 astronaut Sian Proctor became the first black woman to pilot. a space mission in 2021.