First African-American To Walk In Space Speaks In Palestine - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/17/05-Palestine

First African-American To Walk In Space Speaks In Palestine

On this year's MLK holiday the country honors not only the memory of Dr. King but those who broke the color barrier.

One Texas native took his dreams and his goals beyond the stars. Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. of Temple, became the first African-American to walk in space.

Now 48-years-old, Dr. Harris recalls his dream to look down on the clouds, dreams that began at the young age of 8.

"I was just like every other American kid at that time," he said. "I was watching what was happening with the space program watching these guys go up they came back people called them American heroes. I wanted to be a hero too."

It was 1963 and Dr. Harris said during a time when he looked around and saw society at its worst, years later he looked up and saw the country at its best.

"Those were some of the best times and worst times. Here on this planet we were fighting for human rights and at the same time we were sending men to the moon."

In 1990, he received a call few have had the opportunity to answer, a call from NASA.

"It was probably the most wonderful day of my life," Dr. Harris said. "In my mind it was like God has allowed this open door to allow me a way in to fulfill my dream."

In 1995, Dr. Harris became the first African-American to walk in space, representing his country and his people.

"It is awesome to look back at the earth, and to see this earth as you never seen it before. With no lines, no lines of longitude latitude, no lines dividing countries."

In his two missions with NASA Dr. Harris joined with the Russian Space Station, MIR, and flew on the shuttle Columbia. The doctor said the Columbia tragedy has not changed his feelings about space travel.

He encourages children of all races to follow his example.

"Don't be afraid to dream. I believe I can fly. The best way to get there is through an education. Be willing to work hard. If you do those three things, there is nothing that you can't do in life."

Dr. Harris is one of only about 350 people to fly in to space.

He left NASA in 1996 and is currently working as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Science and Health Services.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com

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