Let’s try something different.
As further proof that we are constantly learning and growing, I recently discovered the story of Ronald McNair, the second African-American astronaut ever in space.
It just so happens that the 25th anniversary of the tragic 1986 Challenger shuttle crash on which Ronald was a crew member has just passed, and to commemorate this, the building of a pivotal library from McNair’s youth in his South Carolina hometown has been named for him.
This is one of the 2 reasons that McNair has been surfacing in the news recently. I came across him from an article that I read in a local NYC newspaper focusing on the park that bears his name in Brooklyn and how his story has faded into relative obscurity. Whole generations (most likely beginning with mine) have passed, totally oblivious to his presence in the pages of astronomy and Black History. Since this is Negroes In The News, and Black History Month, I thought this was the perfect time to shine some light on him as well as someone in the present day making strides.
These are the stories seldom told in the midst of the gross cliche and rhetoric that this month tends to bring. I prefer to focus on the modern Black History; that is, the history which is being made every day by our forward thinkers and doers. As a child, I was always fascinated by the existence of Black astronauts. Not fully understanding what it is exactly that astronauts do (and I STILL don’t have the faintest), but for a young kid being bombarded with the sci-fi and enamoring world of comic, cartoon and television imagery, THESE were the closest thing to superheroes in real life. Before rappers rose in popularity to become the ultimate larger-than-life figures. I couldn’t believe there were actually Black men and women building and riding in shuttles. I didn’t have time to fall into the fantasies of this however, because often in school, these folk were just footnotes in our Black History studies, along with all of the inventors, surgeons and those who ventured in the fields of hard science. Sadly, they were lost and overshadowed between the pages upon pages emphasizing on the less educated but more celebrated preachers, athletes and musicians.
And McNair’s resume is amazing! Comparable to any scientific peer of any race, while undeniably boasting a sense of Black pride. His progression in his personal life can be used to exemplify the heights to which African-Americans should aspire to as a whole. He reached academic and career pinnacles, and can even say that he attended an HBCU. He was a Black Belt in the field of martial arts and skilled with the saxophone – even going so far as to playing while in orbit. There’s also a school named after him. I won’t go on and on about his credentials, I’ll just point you toward this piece from the NPR that brilliantly weaves an anecdote shared by McNair’s brother into it’s write-up on him. Check it out and learn something. It’s shorter than this whole post! http://www.npr.org/2011/01/28/133275198/astronauts-brother-recalls-a-man-who-dreamed-big
Moving on to the second subject of our segment, I was ecstatic and super motivated and proud when I saw that my homegirl Starrene “GangStarrGirl” Rhett posted this article that features her best friend, Paris Goudie in Black Enterprise magazine.
I feel kinda wack because I know Paris well via Starrene, and have yet to catch his act. “The Hip-Hop Juggler”, as his performance title reads, is a true grinder. He found his way in a niche market and career field that is rarely thought of and under-appreciated, especially by people of color. His success goes against the very grain and his drive is inspiring to anyone, as he is one of those people who have truly followed their passion and stuck to what he does best!
I walk around with his card in my wallet and I can honestly say that he’s a genuinely honest and humble dude. Props to Black Enterprise for showcasing this young man and his choice to take the road less traveled. In more ways than one. I see you P!
This is Black History in the making…