I was actually looking for a video of him playing the saxophone in orbit and happened upon this history by ABCNEWS.com. Related to the previous post: his PhD was in Laser Physics from MIT.
"Education was the secular god of the black community" (a quote I remember, but have no sources for it).
"Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.
"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions." Carter G. Woodson
ADDED: When I lived in Austin, Texas, I recalled meeting Dr. McNair when I was an undergraduate at North Carolina A&T State University. I was in AFROTC, marched in the parade in his honor after his first mission, and introduced him at the Army/Air Force ROTC joint banquet. It was a busy weekend.
"Whenever you're in Texas, you should give me a call."
So I did. Back then, I called information; asked for Ronald Ervin McNair in Houston, Texas. That was as close as "Googling it" as we got back then.
I got to speak to him for a good three hours. I found out some things:
- 5 weeks before his dissertation defense, someone purged his data (also known as sabotage). Without data, he'd essentially have failed to get his PhD. He said he stayed up for 3 weeks and re-accomplished 5 years of research. He slept for a week after that.
- He was planning to leave NASA and go into academia. Challenger would be "his last mission." That was sadly true. It devastated me, and inspired some creative writing in his honor.
- A lot of his determination he learned as a participant on the school karate team, which a the time (according to my Calculus instructor and his teammate Dr. Casterlow), you could get a disqualification for "unnecessary redness of the skin."
Recalling this makes me determined to stay in science, contribute, help when and if I can, and stand on the shoulder of this and other giants (he was actually only 5'6", but you get the idea).
“When getting an education is a revolutionary act & dreams are the province of men,” Stanley Tucci.