This Day in Black History: March 30, 1962

Capt. Edward J. Dwight Jr. became the first African-American candidate for astronaut training.

Posted: 03/30/2013 08:30 AM EDT
This Day in Black History: March 30, 1962

(Photo: Public Domain)

Air Force Capt. Edward J. Dwight Jr. made headlines worldwide after becoming the first African-American candidate for astronaut training on March 30, 1962. He was given the opportunity after Whitney Young, then head of the National Urban League, recommended him to the Kennedy administration.

Sadly, Dwight faced a lot of discrimination from other astronauts that only grew worse after the assassination of President Kennedy. Not only did he not make it to space, he resigned from the program in 1966.

It was the start of a whole new beginning for him. As a child, Dwight's ambition was to work as an artist, but his father had different ideas and encouraged him to study engineering. After leaving the military, he worked as an engineer for IBM, as an aviation consultant, and founded Dwight Development Associates Inc., a real estate land development and construction company.

He also earned a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Denver, where he concentrated on sculpting. Today he owns and operates Ed Dwight Studios Inc., a Denver-based studio, gallery and foundry that focuses largely on public art and memorials.

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