Ed Dwight Was The First Black Astronaut Candidate For NASA. Here's Why He Never Flew

Jul 19, 2019

All week, On Second Thought has shared stories about people whose unsung contributions to the Apollo 11 mission 50 years ago. 

One of those pioneers is 85-year-old Ed Dwight. The Kennedy administration was focused on winning the space race, while integrating the South. Former President John F. Kennedy chose Dwight — handsome, charismatic and skilled Air Force officer to be the first African American astronaut. 

Dwight went on press tours around the world and made headlines during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, but he was ultimately not chosen as the nation's first black astronaut following Kennedy's assasination in 1963. 

Dwight spoke with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott about lack of opportunities in the Air Force and  what ultimately led him to resign in 1966. He has since become an engineer, entrepeneur and sculptor with major commissions and huge bronze statues installed all over the world. 13 of those pieces are located in Atlanta. 

He is featured in PBS' Chasing The Moon documentary. He will also speak at the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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