First Black Man in Space Honored for Community Leadership

This astronaut-turned-businessman has an education-and-crime-prevention foundation for kids. 

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Bernard Harris (Steve Ueckert/Houston Chronicle)

What do you do after becoming the African American to travel in space? Sit back and enjoy the title? Not if you're Dr. Bernard Harris. The astronaut, physician and businessman started the Harris Foundation to provide education and crime-prevention programs for Houston students. He is being honored for his work this week with the FBI's Director's Community Leadership Award for the philanthropic work that he calls his biggest accomplishment.

"I see the foundation as the greatest investment I can not only make for myself but for my community and the country," the 54-year-old Texan, whose long list of "firsts" includes participating in the first joint Russian-American space flight, told the Houston Chronicle. "My goal is to enable our youth to do and become whatever they want in life."

Harris said his work is all about helping kids make the right choices, even when the society they live in doesn't nurture them. "Growing up as a minority in this country, when I was thinking about becoming an astronaut and a physician, the world around me didn't support that," said Harris. "Everyone is born in this world with the ability to do whatever they desire to do. We hope to encourage the idea that if you listen to yourself, it will lead you to what you want to do in life."

His honor was presented at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he confessed that another of his childhood dreams was to become a federal agent. At the rate he's going, we wouldn't put it past him to pursue it.

Read more at the Houston Chronicle.

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