NASA has released a free-to-watch documentary about black astronauts and their contribution to the US space program.
The Color of the room (below) Landed on YouTube on Sunday, June 19, as part of Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US
The 50-minute documentary is presented by NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche — the first black woman to run a NASA center — with contributions from current NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Victor Glover and Jeanette Epps, in addition to retired space travelers such as Leland. Melvin, Bernard Harris, Robert Curbeam and Bobby Satcher.
Harris says in The color of the room that he chose his career path after watching coverage of NASA’s space program growing up in the 1960s, including footage of Neil Armstrong’s first moon landing at the end of that decade. However, Harris adds that at the time he noticed that there were few black people working at NASA.
“When I looked around at NASA… I didn’t see anyone that looked like me… in fact the first people they selected to be the crème de la crème were the best astronauts, white guys, all whites, and so I remember I said to myself, even though I don’t see anyone like me, I still don’t let that stop me from deciding what I wanted to do.
NASA says it is committed to a culture of diversity and inclusion when it comes to building its astronaut team. Indeed, the space agency is currently in the advanced stages of planning for a new era of human exploration of the moon, and aims to land the first person of color on the moon, as well as the first woman, as well as part of the Artemis program.
“At NASA, we are exploring space and expanding knowledge for the benefit of humanity,” Wyche said. “To do this, we need to attract the brightest minds that reflect the American public. In this documentary, our former and current black astronauts share their journeys to space and tell personal stories of courage and resilience. I hope this film will inspire all future NASA engineers, scientists and explorers to reach for the stars as we work to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon under Artemis.”