The First Black Astronaut October 2, 1935 – December 8, 1967
He was senior USAF pilot, accumulating well over 2,500 flight hours—2,000 of which were in jets. Lawrence flew many tests in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter to investigate the gliding flight of various unpowered spacecraft returning to Earth from orbit, such as the North American X-15 rocket-plane. NASA cited Lawrence for accomplishments and flight maneuver data that “contributed greatly to the development of the Space Shuttle.”
In June 1967, Lawrence successfully completed the Air Force Flight Test Pilot Training School at Edwards AFB, California. That same month he was selected by the USAF as an astronaut in the Air Force’s Manned Orbital Laboratory Program, thus becoming the first African-American astronaut candidate.
At the age of 16, he graduated in the top 10 percent from Englewood High School in Chicago. At the age of 20, he graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry.
After entering the U.S. Air Force, the 21 year old he was designated as a pilot after completing flight training at Malden Air Force Base.
He married Barbara Cress, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Cress of Chicago and at 25, he had completed an Air Force assignment as an instructor pilot in the T-33 training aircraft for the German Air Force.
Lawrence was killed on December 8, 1967, in the crash of an F-104 Starfighter at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The First Black Astronaut to go up in space
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1942. He was one of the four kids born to Guion Sr., a mechanical engineer and Lolita,a special education teacher. He graduated from Overbrook Senior High School in Philadelphia, in 1960, and obtained a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 1964. Later, the same year, he married Linda Tull. The couple has two sons; Guion III and James.
Bluford’s first mission was STS-8 aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. It was Challenger’s first mission with night launching and night landing. The shuttle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on August 30, 1983. Challenger landed at the Edwards Air Base in California on September 5, 1983, after completing 98 orbits of the Earth in 145 hours. He participated as a mission specialist in four missions, commissioned by NASA between 1983 and 1993. By the end of his fourth mission, Guion had completed 688 hours in space.
The New Life Inspirational Gospel Choir (New Life) was founded in August of 1984 by the Reverend Jonathan Alvarado, a graduate of Morehouse College and presently the pastor of Total Grace Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. He was succeeded by the Rev. Sirdelrol Vonzel Drayton, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, who also attended Morehouse College.
Under the leadership of Rev. Drayton, New Life grew from a mere eight members to nearly 100 dedicated voices. From his directorship sprang forth many dedicated assistant directors, including Ms. Stephanie Pugh, Rev. James Fields, Ms. JoAnn Carrington, Mr. William Durham, Mr. Andre Harrison, and Min. George Luster IV. In March, 1993, Rev. Drayton was succeeded by Rev. Jeronn C. Williams, then a student and now a graduate of Morehouse College and the Pastor of the New Life International Family Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
From its founding to the present, the spirit of ministry has been deeply embedded into the hearts of the members of the New Life Inspirational Gospel Choir. They presently have members representing the entire Atlanta University Center, which includes Morehouse College, Spelman College,Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown College, and the Interdenominational Theological Seminary, also members from Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Emory University, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Metropolitan College, Georgia Perimeter College, Luther Rice Seminary, and Devry University.
Albertina Walker was born in Chicago, Illinois. By the age of four she had begun singing in the Children’s Choir of West Point Baptist Church. By the age of 14, Albertina Walker was a member of the Williams Singers and also toured with the Willie Webb and Robert Anderson Singers. By the age of 22 she formed her own group, the Caravans, which helped launch the careers of Evangelist Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Shirley Caesar, Delores Washington, Cassieta George, and Reverend James Cleveland.
In 1975 Albertina Walker recorded her first solo album, Put A Little Love In Your Heart. By 1999 she had recorded over sixty albums, solo and with other artists.
Albertina Walker, being committed to the preservation of gospel music, founded the Albertina Walker Foundation for the Creative and Performing Arts in1998. The foundation offers financial assistance in the form of scholarships to college students who plan on working with gospel music.
Albertina Walker is the recipient of many awards and honors, including: a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Album (Songs Of The Church); two Stellar awards; and several Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence awards.
In 1994, Albertina Walker was honored at the Chicago Gospel Festival with a street being renamed in her honor, and the placement of a bench bearing her name in Chicago’s Grant Park. In 1997, she was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the Chicago Theological Seminary, an institution of the University of Chicago.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, issued House Bill. In the form of a resolution, congratulating Albertina Walker on the occasion of her 70th birthday and honoring her career accomplishments as a gospel musician. The bill was filed with the clerk on August 23, 1999 and officially adopted November 18, 1999.