Conference Features First African American Astronaut To Travel To Space

Feb 8, 2018

Roger That! features First African American in space

A two-day symposium hosted by Grand Valley State University and the Grand Rapids Public Museum will celebrate space exploration once again.  It’s the “Roger That!” conference which will feature Guy Bluford.  He’s a retired NASA astronaut and was the first African American to travel to space.

“We’re kind of trying to expand people’s ideas that you can’t be interested in space unless you are an engineer or want to become a physicist.  You can be interested in space and explore space from a number of different perspectives.”

Expanding ideas and getting folks talking about space is one of the goals of an upcoming conference.  Deana Weibel is a professor of anthropology at Grand Valley State University and is a founder and co-organizer of the Roger That!  Conference coming up next week.  GVSU and the Grand Rapids Public Museum were able to secure another grant for Roger That: A Celebration of space exploration in honor of Roger B. Chaffee.  Weibel says they’re really hoping to encourage participation in stem fields, in a number of different areas.

“But also to show that interest in space is not limited to those stem fields and that’s why we’ve got NASA and art and psychology and archeaology. We’re trying to expand people’s ideas that you can’t be interested in space unless you are an engineer or unless you’re going to be a physicist. You can be interested in space and explore space from a number of different perspectives.”

The Roger That! Conference started last year as a tribute to West Michigan native, Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee who died during testing on Apollo I in 1967. Chaffee’s daughter spoke last year. This year attendees will hear from the First African American to travel to space—Dr. Guy Bluford.

“I think it’s extremely significant to this month that we have someone who has an historic first, who is African American who was able to pioneer at NASA.”

It’s a two day event that looks not only at space, but as Weibel mentioned, space and art, and other connections.  Events will be held at both GVSU and the Public Museum, February 16th and 17th. To get more information or to register, go to gvsu.edu/rogerthat