On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the moon, Derrick Pitts, of the Franklin Institute, joined Joy Reid to talk about that historic endeavor, and the stories of those — other than the astronauts who flew on the spacecraft — who helped make it happen. Of course, the mathematician Katherine Johnson was one of the focuses of the book and movie, "Hidden Figures," as a Black woman in the 1960s who was instrumental to the mission's success.
PITTS: There are hundreds of untold stories of African-Americans who worked in associated industries in the space program directly and associated industries in aerospace, particularly in NASA's aerospace program, and we don't hear those stories. The hidden figure stories begin to open a door to us for understanding, but there were so many people who worked as fabricators or worked as engineers in various different regards. My father, actually, worked associated with the space program as a radar technician for the United States Navy. So I know there is a personal story right there.
Reid then asked him about the potential for people in the United States to galvanize and unite behind such a goal again. Was such a thing possible? Could it even be around an issue that existed here on Earth, rather than in space? That was a natural segue for Pitts to delve into the topic of climate change.
As the east coast broils, and hurricanes happen earlier each year, storms become increasingly destructive and ice caps melt, climate change does seem a natural (pun intended) impending problem behind which the U.S. should throw its energy and unity, and with the same measure of urgency and drive it did the Space Race.