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'Just getting started': Kansas lawmakers honored Ed Dwight, America's first Black astronaut candidate

Ed Dwight
Posted at 9:21 PM, Jun 21, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sports teams and taxes were the primary focus of a special session in the Kansas Legislature this week, but a notable resolution deserves attention.

Senate Resolution 1702 honored the achievements of Ed Dwight, noting an effort to permanently display his artwork around the capitol.

Dwight was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, and his recent trip to space just added to history he's already made.

At age 90, he became the oldest person to reach space last month.

He already was America's first Black astronaut candidate.

Ed Dwight

"The president, (John F. Kennedy), announces all over the world that I was gonna be this Black astronaut guy and the world went crazy like they did two or three weeks ago," Dwight said. "Then I was in the middle of the line of fire."

He remembers being told he was too short, not smart enough and Black folks didn’t have the capacity to learn.

It was because of those experiences Dwight was passed over and didn't get a chance to go to space decades ago.

"As soon as the Black astronauts start flying 20 years later, there were a group of black astronauts that said, 'You know what, Ed started this whole thing. This guy needs some justice.'"

Dwight finally made the trip to space on a Blue Origin rocket.

"It's just getting started, to be totally candid," he said. "It's just getting started."

In addition to being a former U.S. Air Force officer and pilot, Dwight and his sister were the first Black students to integrate Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas.

Chester Owens is one of many people who also know Dwight as a successful artist.

Ed Dwight

"I said, 'Ed, how much do you think that statue you gave Lily would be worth?'" He said, 'Chester, I don't know, but it will be worth more when I die,'" Owens laughed.

Dwight reached the stars, but throughout his life he was always reaching for so much more.

"What does the world need?" he said. "I tell people you don’t know who’s watching you."

It shouldn't be a surprise Dwight is not slowing down.

He is booked for speaking engagements through 2026.