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Little Known Black History Fact: Ed Dwight Jr., First Black Astronaut Candidate

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Ed Dwight Jr. was the first African American astronaut candidate for what is now NASA. Dwight joined the air force in 1953 as a test pilot. After earning his aeronautical engineering degree, Dwight was referred to President John F. Kennedy as a space candidate by Whitney Young Jr.  In 1962, Dwight was entered into the U.S. astronaut training program as an experimental test pilot in preparation to become the first African American astronaut candidate.

Dwight’s training as a space candidate was full of racism. His then Supervisor, Col. Chuck Yeager, urged him to quit. Days after President Kennedy’s assassination, Dwight was dropped from the program and sent to Germany to work as a liaison for a non-existent German test pilot school. He was later court marshaled after refusing to fly his plane when he had heard that it was made unsafe – purposely.

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