Smithsonian Looks At How Race Played Into The Space Race

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Smithsonian Channel lifts the lid on one of the great untold stories of the 20th century, a story which casts a radical new light on the Cold War, the Space Race and the battle for racial equality. Black In Space: Breaking The Colour Barrier (February 27th, 9pm) examines the competition between two superpowers to put the first black man in space. 1942 was a crucial year in the Space Race and the Cold War. It was also a crucial year in the history of race relations. It was the year in which two men who would become fighter pilots and later astronauts were born – Guion Bluford in Philadelphia and Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez in Guantanamo, Cuba.

They would be competitors to be the first black man in space and their story is a window into alleged racism in American institutions, the Russian genius for humiliating their Cold War opponents, US relations with Cuba, and the story of man’s experience in space. The film is directed by Laurens Grant, a threetime Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker whose The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution premiered at the Sundance Festival and was named one of the top five documentaries of 2015 by the National Board of Review.

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