Smithsonian Channel and Comcast Premieres Black in Space– A Documentary about the First Black Astronauts

This post about Smithsonian Channel’s Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier is a sponsored post brought to you by Comcast. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

The Smithsonian Channel, Comcast, and the John Heinz History Center welcomed dozens of guests on February 10 for the premiere screening of Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier.

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The race to get to space is long over, but buried in time is the revelatory story of the world’s first black astronauts. For many Americans, the 20th-century Space Race was a Cold War competition over rocketry and technological feats, but the world’s two superpowers were also engaged in another high-stakes race – one whose impact is still being felt today.

BLACK IN SPACE: BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER examines the crucial moment when America’s history of racial prejudice became a critical vulnerability in the effort to win hearts and minds around the globe. Confronting a Soviet foe determined to show that communism was the face of the future, the U.S. would need a new generation of astronauts. 

The hour-long documentary is a learning lesson for all ages.  But, for someone like me who was too young to experience the turbulent times of racial integration, it was eye opening.

During Black History Month, many students crack open the history books with a specific goal in mind– to learn about the contributions and rich history of African Americans. But, Black In Space: Breaking the Color Barrier is a visual piece for students to seamlessly learn about Black astronauts.

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After the screening, KDKA Anchor/Reporter Lisa Washington lead a panel discussion with Kelli Herod, VP of Post Production, Smithsonian Channel, and Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr., USMC (Ret.), 12th NASA Administrator. Panelists discussed how the documentary was made, and the future of Black astronauts with NASA.

Panel Discussion
Photo by Brian Cook, Golden Sky Media

The 2017 NASA Astronaut Class graduated last month.  The 13-member class includes one Black woman, Dr. Jessica Watkins.

BLACK IN SPACE: BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER will premiere on Monday, February 24th at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

‘Dear White People’: A Letter to the Masses

Netlfix released a 10-chapter series (April 28) about the Black students at the Ivy League college Winchester University.

Few in numbers, these students quickly discover that race plays a significant role in their interactions on campus. After a prestigious White group throws a Blackface Halloween party, tensions rise and creates a domino effect of other racially-motivated events.

I appreciate the transition from the big screen to computer screen. The Netflix series picked up right where the 2014 film left off, and, equally important, the TV series retained some actors from the movie. I was skeptical at first. But, the TV show version of “Dear White People” ceases all apprehensions with its dry humor and hard truths.

Even the title makes White people cringe of guilt and misconception. What is typically the proper letter salutation has now become an outcry for millions of voices to be heard.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier: ‘Dear White People:’ A letter to the masses (Merecedes’ TV Column, May 10)

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