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.

Gravity

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Dr. Ryan Stone (Saundra Bullock) battles more than scientific elements when she is trapped in outer space in Warner Brothers Pictures’ “Gravity”. As if “Prisoners” hasn’t been killing in the recent box office, we now get the pleasure of another great movie. With only a 7-person cast, “Gravity” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney will have any NASA nerd clinging to the end of their seat.

Biomedical engineer Dr. Stone commits to her inaugural space shuttle mission, while commanding astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) is celebrating his final trip before retirement. Dr. Stone, still in a mourning state of her own, is staring death right in the face after fast moving debris ruins their space shuttle.

The movie travels a little deeper than the dimensions of outer space taking on a psychological connection to the idea of being reborn. Gravity, the physical force not the movie, metaphorically holds Dr. Stone captive to her current state of mind and it’s up to her to use her survival instincts to hopefully see another day. The graphics and special effects were awesome! The movie literally captured every snippet and glimpse of what it means to be floating aimlessly in space. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who has been nominated several times for his previous work, did a phenomenal job. Oscar buzz is never official, but he might just win for “Gravity.”

After “The Heat”, Sandra Bullock is shown in a different, more serious light. She truly embodies the fragile state of Dr. Stone and seems to be an actress of flexibility and variety. Bullock can be sensitive and compassionate (“A Time To Kill”), she can be cute (the “Miss Congeniality” series), she can be outrageously hilarious (“The Heat”), and now, she’s proven to be a vulnerable, persistent biomedical researcher.

4 STARS: May I suggest the 3D or IMAX experience for “Gravity.” The extra $5 effects are worth the simulated feeling of getting lost in outer space. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are a match made in “space.”

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