The AEDC African-American Heritage Committee will host a Black History Month observance Feb. 9 in the auditorium of the University of Tennessee Space Institute beginning at noon.
The theme of the event will be “African-Americans in Times of War.” The guest speaker will be Charles Bolden Jr.
Bolden is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General, former astronaut, and the first black administrator of NASA. Former President Barack Obama nominated Bolden as the 12th NASA administrator in 2009, and Bolden served in this capacity through January 2017.
According to his biography on the NASA website, during his time as NASA administrator, Bolden oversaw the transition of space shuttle missions to an era of exploration focused on the utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development.
The South Carolina native led the agency in developing a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to deep space destinations such as Mars. He also established a new Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop cutting-edge technologies for the missions of tomorrow.
NASA’s activities under Bolden included the unprecedented landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover, the launch of spacecraft to Jupiter, the enhancement of the nation’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites and progress toward the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope scheduled to launch next year.
Bolden spent 14 years of his 34-year career with the Marines Corps as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. After joining that office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994. He commanded two of those missions and piloted the others. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission.
He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History previously announced “African-Americans in Times of War” as the 2018 Black History theme. According to the organization’s website, this theme commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918 and explores the “complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath.”
“Those very concepts provide a broad, useful framework for focusing on the roles of African Americans in every American war, from the Revolutionary War Era to that of the present ‘War against Terrorism,’” the ASALH website states. “Times of war inevitably provide the framework for many stories related to African-American soldiers and sailors, veterans, and civilians. This is a theme filled with paradoxes of valor and defeat, of civil rights opportunities and setbacks, of struggles abroad and at home, of artistic creativity and repression and of catastrophic loss of life and the righteous hope for peace.”
The event is free to attend. Refreshments will be served and a reception will follow Bolden’s speech.
For more information, call (931) 454-5494.