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Black News and News Makers in History: Bernard A. Harris, Jr.

A "dreamer who believes nothing is impossible."

African American news - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Bernard Harris, Jr this week in Black historyOn February 9, 1995 during his second space shuttle flight, Bernard A. Harris, Jr. fulfilled his childhood dream: to become the first African American to perform a space walk. He also was the first African American to go into space as a member of a NASA research team and participated in the construction of the space rover. He has gone on to contribute greatly through his 'Dare to Dream' program.

Born June 26, 1956, throughout his Texas school years, Harris was involved in extracurricular school activities that included science fairs and book clubs. He received a Bachelor's in Science with a major in Biology, then earned a Doctor of Medicine and, by 1985, he completed an Internal Medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic. He went on the complete a National Research Council Fellowship at a NASA research center where his focus was musculoskeletal physiology. He went on to conduct space adaptation research and developed counter measures for extended space flights.

In 1988, Harris completed training as a flight surgeon. In 1991, Harris became an astronaut and qualified as a mission specialist for space shuttle flights. In 1993, he flew onboard the Columbia for ten days and did research on the Spacelab. In 1995, his second mission was as Payload Commander—it was the first flight for the joint Russian-American Space Program and involved a rendezvous with the Russian MIR space station and retrieval of a satellite. It was during this mission that his historic spacewalk occurred. Harris spent a total of nearly 19 days in space. His spacewalk time totaled nearly five hours.

In 1996, Harris left NASA, earned a Master's Degree in Biomedical Science and continued research. He also received an honorary Doctorate Degree and earned his pilot certification.

Black news - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr this week in Black historyIn 1998, Harris founded a non-profit organization, The Harris Foundation located in Houston, was founded "to develop math and science education and crime prevention programs for America's youth". Its mission is "to invest in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth. THF supports programs that empower individuals, in particular minorities and other economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize their potential and pursue their dreams." Because he credits his personal achievements to self-empowerment and self-determination, he uses this foundation to inspire young people that they can do anything, if they only set their mind to it.

Harris has been involved in business development and marketing of Spacehab's space-based products and services; established an International space education program for students for Space Media; and is a member of the board for some of the "leading technology companies in the world." Other boards he serves on includes the Boys and Girls Club of Houston. He remains involved in science and engineering fairs and other activities that encourage and inspire. He holds several faculty appointments at schools like Baylor and University of Texas. He is Chief Scientist and Vice-President of Science and Health Services, authors scientific publications, and has been recognized by NASA and other organizations for his professional and academic achievements. In 2008, he appeared in a Microsoft ad campaign. He is also active in flying, sailing, skiing, running, scuba diving, art and music.

For more information on Dr. Harris' Dare to Dream program, click here.

Excerpts from Internet including http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/harris.html and http://www.theharrisfoundation.org/.