African Americans in the Space Program
Courtesty Edward J. Dwight, Jr.
Thanks to political pressure exerted by President Kennedy, Edward J. Dwight Jr. was allowed in 1963 to enroll in the Air Force's Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. Many assumed that Dwight would become the first African American astronaut. He seemed highly qualified, having earned an aeronautical degree and logging more than 2,000 hours of jet time in the Air Force. He was intimidated and harassed by white officers and candidates, but nonetheless graduated eighth in his class. He was one of eight students recommended to NASA for the space program, but NASA took only two, leaving Dwight out of the group of finalists. Amidst the controversy that followed, Dwight resigned from the air force in 1966. He has since become a prolific sculptor.