Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

July 22, 1969

On July 22, 1969, the Chicago Defender featured comments from black Chicagoans regarding the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. The article, “Chicagoans Hail Historic Moon Walk...But,” was one of several in the black press that praised the space program while also wondering whether the money could be better spent on social issues in the U.S.

Here is a selection of articles related to the moon landing (click on article title to view PDF):

“Moon Shot Unites U.S. for Instant,” Chicago Defender, July 21, 1969: “The first non-racist moment in American history came at 3:17 pm Sunday, when two Americans—nestled snugly in their lunar craft—became the first men to land on the moon.”

Booker Griffin, “Moon Dust and Black Disgust,” Los Angeles Sentinel, July 24, 1969: “The high priority that this country has put on landing on the moon and exploring outer space in the face of deplorable human suffering in this nation and throughout the world again asserts the fact that mechanical values supersede human values in this country.”

“’Poor People’ on Hand for Historic Moon Shot,” Norfolk Journal and Guide, July 26, 1969: “The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC, holds a sign which ridicules the spending of $12 a day to feed an astronaut, ‘We could feed a starving child for $8.’”

Tommy Cross, “Women Observes 100th Birthday, Then Watches Historic Moon Landing,” Philadelphia Tribune, July 22, 1969: “After celebrating her 100th birthday all day Sunday, a Sharon Hill woman stayed up until 1 a.m. to watch the astronauts explore the surface of the moon. ‘I never thought The Lord would allow man to set foot on the moon,’ said Mrs. Adelaide Corbin of 516 Sharon Ave. ‘But now that we’ve done it, I think it’s wonderful, wonderful, marvelous,’ the century-old woman exulted.”

Art Peters, “75,000 Miss Moon Landing; Rock in Rain to Motown ‘Soul’ Music,” Philadelphia Tribune, July 26, 1969: “While the eyes of the rest of the world were on the moon landing, more than 75,000 persons in Harlem ignored the lunar spectacle Sunday afternoon and rocked and rolled in the rain to the soulful sounds of some of Motown’s biggest stars.”

“Moon Flight Brings Mixed Emotions Among Blacks,” New York Amsterdam News, July 26, 1969: “It was easy to forget that there are still poor and hungry people back on earth as the Apollo 11 soared towards the moon, but Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) leader Hosea Williams didn’t forget. He strikes a militant black power pose in front of models of the Jupiter C and Titan II rockets.”

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