First Black Man Heads NASA

August 27, 2009

Dreams of space exploration were pursued and made tangible for Bolden as a result of his mother Ethyl and father Charles Seniors’ nurturing and support. “I can recall as Charles was coming up being a real friendly type of guy, he was not in my class, he was about 2 years behind me, graduating in 1964,” said Black News’ Publisher Isaac Washington, who also attended Bolden’s alma mater, C.A. Johnson High School.

“Charles was athletic, and swam a lot at the neighborhood pool in Drew Park, and was always in the community contributing,” Washington added. “With his parent’s constant support I could see in him a good that inspired me to do better,” he concluded.

Bolden’s upbringing carried over into school, as his mother was the Librarian, and his father, the head football coach at C.A. Johnson.

As a librarian his mother was extremely instrumental in guiding students, teaching them problem solving, Dewey decimal systems, researching, functions of the library, and all things that are essential today as they were then, while all the while fostering reading.

His father is considered one of the school’s most legendary coaches.

Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in 1968, Bolden began a 34-year career with the Marine Corps that included flying more than 100 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

As a NASA astronaut, Bolden flew four times on the Space Shuttle, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the first joint United States-Russian shuttle mission.

After his final space shuttle flight in 1994, he returned to active duty in the Marines. NASA has been without a leader since its former administrator stepped down in January of 2009. Bolden would take the helm of NASA at a time when human space flight is under review and the space shuttle is facing retirement.

Wayne Young
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