They Had a Dream: The Story of African American Astronauts

J. Alfred Phelps, Author
J. Alfred Phelps, Author Presidio Press $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-89141-497-1
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Paperback - 978-0-89141-540-4
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Phelps ( Chappie ) tells a disconcerting story of a meritocracy with a melanin ceiling. The U.S. government's space program is depicted as a corps shaped by an arrogant, ingrown elitism which discouraged racial diversity among its candidates regardless of their competencies. For the first 17 years of manned space flight, America's astronauts were exclusively white and male; since 1978, only seven African Americans have cracked that circle. Phelps's profiles include chapters on Air Force Capt. Edward Dwight, passed over by NASA in 1962, Ronald McNair, who died in the Challenger explosion, and Mae Jennison, the first African American woman in space. Their experiences suggest that the path to the stars may be open to those who dream, but dreamers of color must fight for their place--the right stuff isn't necessarily enough. Photos not seen by PW . (Feb.)
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