First Black astronaut Maj. Robert Lawrence Jr. – Chicago Tribune

U.S. Air Force Maj. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was an Englewood native who is considered the first African American astronaut. Lawrence was part of a classified military space program in the 1960s called the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, meant to spy on the Soviet Union. He died before flying in space when his fighter jet crashed on Dec. 8, 1967.

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