This Day in Black History: Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris becomes first African American to walk in space

Astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris

HOUSTON – Astronaut Dr. Bernard Anthony Harris Jr. was born on June 26, 1956 in Temple, Texas.

Education has always been important to Dr. Harris. In 1974, Harris graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Texas. In 1978, he graduated from University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. In 1982, Dr. Harris earned his doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University of Medicine.

In 1985, Dr. Harris joined NASA’s Ames Research Center to complete a National Research Council Fellowship where he conducted research on musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis. In 1988, Dr. Harris joined the Brooks Air Force Base to train as a flight surgeon in San Antonio. About 8 years later, in 1996, Dr. Harris received his master’s degree in biomedical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

After completing his fellowship at NASA Ames Research Center in 1987, Dr. Harris joined NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a flight surgeon and clinical scientist. In 1991, Dr. Harris became an astronaut for NASA.

Dr. Harris completed his first mission on Space Shuttle Columbia in April of 1993. On Feb. 9, 1995, on his second mission, Dr. Harris became the first African American astronaut to walk in space on STS-63—Russian-American Space Program.

In 1996, Dr. Harris completed his service as astronaut with NASA and served as Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Science and Health Services.

In 1998, Dr. Harris founded The Harris Foundation – an organization that empowers young children to pursue their dreams.

In 2009, Dr. Harris was elected Vice President of the American Telemedicine Association and currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Vesalius Ventures, Inc.

Dr. Bernard Harris continues to encourage children of all ages and adults to D.A.R.E. to DREAM.