On This Day In Black History



On this day Febrary 2nd in Black History Dr. Bernard Harris Jr. became the first African-American to walk in space. He logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles. He also accomplished his childhood dream by completing his first walk in space, becoming the first African-American to do so.

Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. was born on June 26, 1956, the son of Mrs. Gussie H. Burgess, and Mr. Bernard A. Harris, Sr. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from Sam Houston High School, San Antonio in 1974. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from University of Houston in 1978 before follwoing that up with a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 1982.
After medical school, Dr. Harris completed a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 1985. While working on a National Research Council Fellowship at NASA Ames Research Center in 1986, he conducted research in the field of musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis. He finished his fellowship in 1987, then trained as a flight surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine, Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas, in 1988. His duties included clinical investigations of space adaptation and the development of countermeasures for extended duration space flight. Assigned to the Medical Science Division, he held the title of Project Manager, Exercise Countermeasure Project.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Harris became an astronaut in July 1991. He was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-55, Spacelab D-2, in August 1991, and later flew on board Columbia for ten days, (April 26 to May 6, 1993), marking the Shuttle's one year of total flight time. Dr. Harris was part of the payload crew of Spacelab D-2, conducting a variety of research in physical and life sciences. During this flight, Dr. Harris logged over 239 hours and 4,164,183 miles in space.
Later, Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. was the Payload Commander on STS-63 (February 2-11, 1995), the first flight of a new joint Russian-American Space Program.

Dr. Harris is married to the former Sandra Fay Lewis of Sunnyvale, California. They have one child. He enjoys flying, sailing, skiing, running, scuba diving, art and music. He is also a licensed private pilot. Most recently, Dr. Harris is President and Founder of the Harris Foundation, which supports math/science education and crime prevention programs for America's youth.

He describes himself as a “dreamer who believes nothing is impossible.” I believe he has proven himself correct.


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