Mae Jemison, once a little black girl from small town Alabama, was the first black woman in space, and it was she who inspired countless black girls across this great nation as a new ‘kind’ of face included in the elite squadron of American space explorers. And I planned to highlight her this weekend, but she is nameless without the likes of you.
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The eagle has landed.” With these words, you forever bound humanity, and not merely the souls of your “native land.” From the lunar surface, it was at once salient that the land of the Earth, far in the distance, was in fact one. And it belonged to all of us. There were no lines separating governments and their so-called citizens. The boundaries we clung to had a habit of fading with each mile of altitude you climbed. And the land was land only. The ocean the ocean and humanity humanity. Race became a foreign concept and wars disappeared. Only Earth remained.
Of your daring into space, you said, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” In physical form you were but a finite being, a golden representation of your human race aching to surmount seemingly impossible boundaries. But in the use of your life, you were—you are, indeed gigantic, and there’s simply no way around the fact. You took that giant leap for all souls, past, present and future and, with one step, gave us all permission to dream beyond any conceivable barrier.
A mere member of Mankind.