Space Race: African American Newspapers Respond to Sputnik and Apollo 11 Page: 52
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the money they used to send those men up there; why don't they give me some?"100
Before the launch, civil rights activist Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy led a protest complaining
about the amount of money spent on the Apollo program while vast numbers of people
remained at the poverty level. "America has reached out to the stars but has not
reached out to her starving poor," explained Abernathy while leading a small group of
15 African Americans through the Cape Kennedy Visitors Center.101 The Michigan
Chronicle pointed out in an editorial that even Abernathy commented that upon
witnessing the moon landing he "'really forgot the fact that we had so many hungry
people.'" In an ironic tone the editorial reminded readers that this admission of
bedazzlement and temporary memory loss was "coming from the man who led a crowd
of followers there to protest the costly space program."102
An article penned by Booker Griffin in the Los Angeles Sentinel proffered the
argument that while the moon landing was definitely "one of the miracles of the ages"
and that "[t]aken at face value, it would seem that all Americans would rejoice at such a
monumental occurrence," Griffin announced: "I do not." In Griffin's article, entitled
"Moon Dust and Black Disgust," a central theme was the contrast between what the
Apollo program achieved and what remained unachieved on earth in the black
communities: "Here is a country that cannot pass a rat control bill to protect black
babies from rats, but can spend billions to explore rocks, craters and dust thousands of
miles away." Griffin believed that this nationwide comprehension of what transpired
with the various programs preparing astronauts since the space race began in 1957,
99 "Mixed Emotions: Different Views," NYA, July 26, 1969, p. 1.
100 Ibid., 45
101 "SCLC In Space Parley," CHI, July 16, 1969, p. 4.
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Thompson, Mark A. Space Race: African American Newspapers Respond to Sputnik and Apollo 11, thesis, December 2007; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5115/m1/59/: accessed April 18, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .