Farewell to NASA’s General Bolden: Kids Talk Radio Space Science News
In 1964, a high school junior dreams of attending the US Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland but he faces some major obstacles. He is African American in ‘Jim Crow’ South Carolina and he has no political sponsors. Undaunted, he writes to President Johnson asking for his help and, as it would happen, LBJ has just launched a program to recruit minorities for the military academies. The president dispatches a recruiter to South Carolina.
Charles Bolden goes on to become a Naval Academy graduate, a Marine jet pilot, a major general, a four time space shuttle astronaut and NASA’s Administrator from July 2009 until January 2017.
Because of my association with Nichelle Nichols I was fortunate to have several wonderful encounters with “General Bolden” like the one captured by photographers at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. One of our last conversations was about Nichelle and I flying to the “edge of space” aboard the 747 Jumbo Jet carrying SOFIA, NASA’s airborne telescope. I wanted to leverage the notoriety of the flight as a way of inspiring young people to star gaze; Bolden responded by asking NASA’s entire education department to assist me in my endeavor. I never saw so many names cc’d on an email chain. I was truly overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed can be used to describe NASA when Nichelle Nichols recruited the first African American and female astronauts in 1978—and that Bolden was among those who she pursued! Ultimately, he decided to take her advice and applies for astronaut training two years later and the rest is history.
Because Bolden considered Nichelle a friend and mentor, NASA wanted her to be a part of their official farewell video to their boss. I was honored to be present when Nichelle recorded her funny and heartfelt farewell.
NASA is losing a friend and mentor –and also a mensch. Thank you for your service, general sir!
Bolden and Deputy Director, Lori Garver in video salute to Nichelle Nichols in 2010
The man in the black suit is Ivor Dawson. He is the owner of the Traveling Space Museum in Los Angeles California. From time to time he collaborates with Bob Barboza producing school workshops in STEM and Star Parties where the community can come together to learn more about space science. Ivor is a fantastic presenter and he is loved by his audiences. For more information about STEM and STEAM++ projects visit http://www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com.