A Day in History – Astronaut Ronald McNair

Astronaut Ronald McNair


Ronald McNair, physicist and astronaut, was born on October 21, 1950 in South Carolina and was the second African American astronaut to reach outer space.  He loved sports, was a black belt karate instructor and an accomplished saxophonist.

As a child growing up in the South in the 50’s and 60’s, young Ronald was not a stranger to racism.  He was an enthusiastic and passionate reader.  This led him one day into the local library where he tried to check-out a book.  When the librarian told him that was not possible, (only whites could check-out books) he was not too happy about that.  His mother and the police were called, and when the police arrived, it is said the officer told the librarian, “Why don’t you just give him the book?”  She did.  Now…that same library bears his name.  How did that happen?

It started with McNair graduating from Carver High School at 17, getting a Bachelor of Science Degree in physics from North Carolina A&T University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.  1978 saw him becoming a candidate for NASA, receiving a year of training and becoming the second African American astronaut to venture into outer space.  As a specialist on the Challenger in 1984 he embarked on his first space mission.  His last flight was in 1986, when he again boarded the Challenger.  Many viewers, the writer being one, watched it take-off from Kennedy Space Center … and …

 exploded in the air.   Astronaut Ronald McNair…this issue’s person in history.

For more information of Astronaut Ronald McNair, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_McNair.