The Dallas Morning News
First black astronaut to walk in space will visit Dallas
He will stand before his Dallas audience as the embodiment of the possible and the can-do spirit, as a pioneer who has — in the iconic words of Star Trek — “gone where no man has gone before.”
He is astronaut, businessman and physician Bernard Harris Jr. — the first black person to walk in space.
Harris will be in Dallas to promote STEM programs — those in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to about 1,200 Dallas-Fort Worth students. Advocates say STEM programs are training grounds that help students achieve career heights and life goals like those of Harris, who in 1995 logged his groundbreaking, five-hour walk as a member of the space shuttle Discovery flight crew.
Harris with be featured with other national high achievers at the free YouthSpark Live from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Dallas’ Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Register at www.theconfidencegroup .com or visit www.eventbrite .com and search for YouthSpark Live.
YouthSpark Live is a national initiative in which tech giant Microsoft has partnered with nonprofits, schools, businesses and government agencies to show students the benefits of pursuing STEM studies. In Dallas, the lead co-sponsor is The Confidence Group, based in Las Colinas. The group offers STEM, music and life skills programs that build confidence in youths and trains them in ways to succeed and to help their families and communities.
Activities will include seminars, an expo, technology games, music, entertainment and giveaways, including Xbox products, robotics kits and theme park tickets.
Other featured speakers and guests will include entrepreneur and author Stedman Graham and aerospace expert and drone industry pioneer Dyan Gibbens.
Harris, 60, has deep Texas ties. Born in Temple, he studied and earned degrees at more than seven institutions. He graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, earned a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Houston, an M.D. from the Texas Tech University School of Medicine and a master’s in biomedical science at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He also worked as a clinical scientist and flight surgeon at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
ABOUT TOWN: Supporters of the nonprofit Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum are seeking sponsors to help send the museum’s youth debate team of elementary school students to a debate tournament May 11-14 at Georgia State University in Atlanta. The students will travel by air.
The museum, formerly Gilliam’s home for 35 years, is at 3817 Wendelkin St. in South Dallas. It is a youth and community learning center and displays Gilliam’s documents and memorabilia. The debate team meets there every first Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Gilliam was an iconic education advocate for black students in Dallas. She became the first black woman to serve on the Dallas school board in 1974 and the district’s first black board president in 1980. She died Dec. 11, 2011, at age 81. The Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy, 1700 E. Camp Wisdom Road, also is named in her honor.
To learn more or to become a museum partner or sponsor, visit www.kathlynjoygilliam museum.org or call 469-4580208.
Verna Melton, who founded Verna’s Help Foundation and Verna’s Ventures, will be honored during the Unsung Heroes Award Luncheon put on by Eta Phi Beta Sorority’s Epsilon chapter at noon Saturday at the Omni Hotel at Park West, 1590 LBJ Freeway.