By Alexandra Dolce –

February 2024

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks said “no”! She refused to give her seat to a white passenger
and move to the back of the bus in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. As a result of her
resistance, the Civil Rights movement of the United States was born, and based on that
movement, legislation was drafted that opened up a new but well-deserved world for primarily
African Americans and other marginalized groups in the United States.

Currently as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are repetitively being dismantled by
a status quo that refuses to see the value of inclusion and recognize the historical roots of
discrimination and marginalization, I believe it is our job as space lawyers, space ethicists and
space policymakers, to have the courage to say “no” to an outer space framework that is
vacillating towards war, greed, and the disregard of human rights and the rule of law. There is
a lot to be gained by the research and resources allotted to us by the cosmos. However, where
there are resources and profit combined with a hegemonic mentality the all too familiar “it’s us
against you” mentality emerges causing those in authority to adversely respond. Many times
that response becomes ugly. Therefore, female, and other marginalized voices have to show up
and be heard. Sometimes they may even have to scream, because those in authority are
not always willing to acknowledge and adopt the mindset needed for change and are also not
willing to do the work to facilitate change.

So, Cheers to some NASA pioneers, who not only showed up, but did the work and proved that
inclusion and acceptance benefits all:

Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory for America’s first space trip with
Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission, an early step toward a Moon landing. She went on to do the
calculations for the first actual Moon landing in 1969. Without Ms. Johnson, there may not even be a space program.

Mary Jackson was NASA’s first African American female engineer. Her presence encouraged
women everywhere that they too can pursue their dreams.

Dr. Mae Jemison is a physician and former NASA astronaut. She is the first African American
female admitted to NASA’s astronaut training program and went on to become the first African
American woman in space.

Beth A. Brown was a NASA astrophysicist who specialized in the study of black holes and the
emission of x-ray radiation from galaxies. She was an alumna of Howard University of which I
am a very proud graduate.

Happy Black History Month!

Pin It on Pinterest