The First Black Man into Space

[salyut6] Posing aboard Salyut 6 for a group picture in September, 1980, are (left to right) Valery Viktorovich Ryumin, Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, Yuri Viktorovich Romanenko, and Leonid Ivanovich Popov. Tamayo-Mendez and Romanenko arrived at the Salyut space station aboard Soyuz 38, which was launched on September 18, 1980.

Contrary to most history books and newspaper accounts, Col. Tamayo-Mendez, a Cuban national, was the first black man in space. Some would quibble that he was a cosmonaut (and first Hispanic in space) and submit that Col. Guion Bluford was nonetheless the first black (African-American) astronaut, in spite of the fact that Col. Bluford's first flight was in 1983, three years after this picture was taken.

Bottom line … the Soviet Union put a "person of color" into space long before the Americans.


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