Had John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, one of the first men to walk on the moon might have been a negro astronaut deliberately picked by his administration to be part of the astronaut training programing because he was a black man.
His name was Ed Dwight.
Sure, he had logged flight time and had an aeronautical engineering degree, but Capt. Ed Dwight’s primary skill-set was being one of the few qualified black men the Kennedy Administration could quickly promote into NASA astronaut candidate program.
His name was Ed Dwight.
His black skin qualified him for immediate promotion into the merit-based astronaut-training program that had been exclusively the hunting of White men who had earned their way there.
J. Alfred Phelps book They Had a Dream: The Story of African American Astronauts, includes a look at just how aggressive the Kennedy Administration was in promoting a negro astronaut:
It all began with a telephone call from the White House to the Department of Defense. There was no arrogance in the callers voice; only a simple question:
“Does the Air Force have any Negroes in the new aerospace research pilots’ course being set up at Edwards Air Force Base in California?”
After what was probably an extended pause came the answer: “No, there aren’t any.”
It was an ordinary enough question, but the call came from an extraordinary source.
Had it come from an ordinary White House, the reaction might have been mild, nothing more than grist for a workday tale some government employee could tell at a weekend gathering. But this call came from the Kennedy White House, that place called “Camelot,” which had seen the beginning of civil rights”sit-ins” and had sent troops to get a black man into a university in the Deep South. it was a White House that had used its influence to gain Martin Luther King’s release from jail. perhaps the recipient of the call knew all of this and felt a bit like a person in a closed garage slowly filling with carbon monoxide. In any event, the reaction was predictable: something had better be done- and rather quickly. The innocuous-sounding call thus became something of an edict.
The air force swiftly launched a search for a black pilot with the right amount of flying time, the “right academic background, and one would could meet all the other stringent requirements.” Fortunately, air force personnel officers didn’t have to look too far, for it was about that time that Capt. Ed Dwight’s application reached them. (p. 6)
When you go looking for something, you can usually find: even it means passing over more qualified opportunities or individuals.
The Kennedy Administration found their magic flying negro: the only problem was Dwight couldn’t pass the requirements to be an astronaut. From Phelps book, we learn Colonel Chuck Yeager was the one man who dared judge Ed Dwight by the content of his character instead of giving him an immediate, Kennedy Administration approved pass because of the advantageous color of his skin:
Meanwhile, Colonel Yeager’s dim view of Dwight’s abilities grew. Yeager later maintained that Dwight’s abilities were so lacking “we set up a special tutoring program to get him through the academics, as I recall, he lacked the engineering [background] that the other students had.”
Yeager further observes that Dwight worked hard, as did his tutors, but adds that “Dwight just couldn’t hack it… didn’t keep up in flying.” Yeager claims to have worked with Dwight on his flying, but he noted that “our students were flying at levels really beyond his experience. The only prejudice against Dwight,” Yeager recalls, wagging a literary finger,” was the conviction that he was not qualified to be in the school” in the first place. (p. 20)
For his trouble in not placing Dwight high enough in the training program, Yeager was called before multiple Civil Rights inquiries, who hounded him with a tenacity not seen until Eric “My People” Holder’s Department of Justice got a hold of George Zimmerman.
This isn’t a joke.
Yes, NASA at its earliest stages had already been infiltrated by the Black-Run America (BRA) virus. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, who knows how many more blacks would have been pushed into NASA?
The Old Negro Space Program. Too funny.