First Chocolate Woman in Space
Maybe I am a woman of color, but I am a human.
Being a human of color hasn’t made me fruitless or unambitious. I, too, would love to sunbathe, to go to the movies or maybe just be allowed to sit on a moving bus.
Does my color make me less of a human?
Space intrigued everyone. I loved it for the uncertainty. It has always been my dream to touch the stars.
But to be an official engineer at NASA, I would have to take certification courses from an all-white school.
All my life I have been turned down and I still am. Still, I went on, knocking at doors, covertly hoping that someone would let me in.
“Mae Jeminson. Petition for attending classes at Hampton High School,” a woman read from the record, her voice resonating across the hall filled with people and their murmurs.
“Good Morning, Your Honor.”
“Good Morning, Ms. Jeminson. You are well aware that Hampton is an all-white school?”
“Yes, Your Honor, I am well aware of that.”
“The law is the law, Ms. Jeminson.”
“But, Your Honor, I believe there are special circumstances to be considered.”
“And what are the circumstances?”
“We all have ambitions, Sir, no matter our color. Maybe I am chocolate-skinned, but I have a dream.”
“Is your dream achieving the impossible?”
“No, Sir, nothing is impossible. My dream is to become a NASA engineer. But I need to attend classes at Hampton to fulfill it.”
“Are you aware that the curriculum is only for men?”
“Yes, Sir. But both men and women have the same capacity, Sir. It all depends on how you utilize it.”
“What is your point, Ms. Jeminson?”
“My point, Sir, is I need to attend the classes at Hampton to fulfill my dream. And I cannot change the color of my skin.”
The judge sighed deeply, scrutinizing me.
“Only the night classes, Ms. Jeminson.”
Little did the judge know, I would go on to become the first black woman in space.
Sometimes, all it takes is a pinch of courage.