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Ed Dwight

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Information about Ed Dwight

Profile image of Ed Dwight

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Sculptor
Test Pilot

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/9/1933
Birth Location:
Kansas City, Kansas

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Sculptor
Test Pilot

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/9/1933
Birth Location:
Kansas City
See how Ed Dwight is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Ed Dwight, the first African American to be trained as an astronaut and the sculptor of major monuments, was born on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas in 1933. His father, Ed Dwight, Sr., played second base for the Kansas City Monarchs in baseball's Negro League. Child rearing fell primarily on Ed's Catholic mother, Georgia Baker Dwight, who convinced her son that he could accomplish almost anything. Dwight grew up as an avid reader and a talented artist who was mechanically gifted and enjoyed working with his hands.

Dwight joined the United States Air Force in 1953, pursuing his dream of flying jet aircraft. He became a USAF test pilot, and in 1961 earned a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University. At the suggestion of the National Urban League's Whitney M. Young, Jr., the Kennedy administration chose Captain Ed Dwight as the first Negro astronaut trainee in 1962. Catapulted to instant fame, he was featured on the cover of Ebony, Jet, Sepia and in news magazines around the world.

Facing severe discrimination from other astronauts, Dwight persevered until President Kennedy's death, when government officials created a threatening atmosphere. He resigned in 1966, never having gone into space. Dwight's talents then led him to work as an engineer, in real estate, and for IBM. In the mid 1970s, he turned to art and studied at the University of Denver, learning to operate the university's metal casting foundry. He received a Masters of Fine Arts in 1977 and gained a reputation as a sculptor. Ed Dwight Studios in Denver is now one of the largest privately owned production and marketing facilities in the western United States. His engineering background helps him face the problems of creating monumental sculpture and his well-stocked library of African American history and culture informs his work. Dwight is recognized as the innovator of the negative space technique.

Dwight has sculpted great works of celebratory African American art, including International Monuments to the Underground Railroad in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario; a Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial in Denver's City Park; a bust of George Washington Williams in the Ohio State Capitol in Columbus, Ohio; the Black Patriots Memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C.; the South Carolina Black History Memorial in Columbia, South Carolina; and the Alex Haley-Kunta Kinte Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland. The Quincy Jones Sculpture Park in Chicago brings his total major works to 35, some of which are on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute.

See how Ed Dwight is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight narrates his photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Ed Dwight's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight describes his mother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes his father's Negro League baseball schedule
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight describes his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight describes his father's experiences as a Negro League baseball player
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight talks about his father's career with the Kansas State University grain department
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight talks about his grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight describes how he got the nickname "June Bug"
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about his father's family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight talks about his mother and grandmother's practice of witchcraft
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight talks about his childhood love of airplanes and reading
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Ed Dwight describes how he developed his art skill as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Ed Dwight talks about his childhood fascination with Adolf Hitler
  • Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Ed Dwight talks about integrating an all-white Catholic school in the 1940s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight describes what motivated him to take up boxing as a youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight talks about his boxing career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight describes the various jobs he held as a youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight describes what dashed his dreams of becoming an artist after high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight talks about the racism in Kansas City, Kansas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight describes his decision not to attend the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes his preparation for flight school, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight describes his preparation for flight school, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight talks about entering flight school at Lowry Air Force Base
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight describes how he was almost kicked out of flight school, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes how he was almost kicked out of flight school, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight describes how flight school helped him get rid of his stutter
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight talks about excellence in flight school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes his plane accident in flight school, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight describes his plane accident in flight school, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight describes his success as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes his success as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight describes his selection to train as the first black astronaut, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes his selection to train as the first black astronaut, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight describes having to stage his marriage in order to train as the first black astronaut
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight describes attempts to force him out of NASA's astronaut training program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight shares his theory behind why he was selected to become NASA's first black astronaut
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes the backlash that arose after he was selected to train as the first black astronaut
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight describes a government approved anthropological study to prove he was incapable of being an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight talks about sleep deprivation as an astronaut trainee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes how Pentagon officials tried to blackmail him
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight talks about being interrogated by Pentagon officials
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight describes why his classmates changed their attitudes toward him in astronaut training school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy nearly led to the end of his career as a NASA astronaut trainee, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight describes how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy nearly led to the end of his career as a NASA astronaut trainee, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes how government officials conspired to make him appear homosexual, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight describes how government officials conspired to make him appear homosexual, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight describes why the Johnson Administration did not want him to go into space
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about being harassed by the Ku Klux Klan while stationed in Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes how his second wife blackmailed and attempted to murder him
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight talks about moving to Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes his classmate dying in an airplane explosion
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight talks describes his first attempt to resign from the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight describes being discharged from the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight talks about the challenges he faced finding a job after he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight talks about his Freedom of Information Act petition and the false information found, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight talks about his Freedom of Information Act petition and the false information found, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight describes his desire to pursue a career as an artist
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight talks about working on a book deal and movie deal
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about astronauts HistoryMaker Guion Bluford and Frederick D. Gregory
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight talks about being commissioned to create a sculpture of black astronauts for NASA
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight describes how his career affected his children
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Ed Dwight talks about working with his son
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Ed Dwight talks about his father's death
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight talks about Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes how he dressed while working for IBM
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight describes how working for IBM helped launch his career as a professional artist
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight remembers his first art show
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes the early years of his art career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight describes what prevented him from becoming a full-time artist
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes what motivated him to pursue his M.F.A. degree at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight notes how public perception shapes the successes and failures of black artists
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight describes how the black community's perception of art can hurt black artists
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about his artwork being stolen in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes why he chose to focus on public art
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight talks about the black community's failure to support black visual artists
  • Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Ed Dwight shares how an encounter at the University of Denver shaped his philosophy as an artist
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight talks about opening his own foundry
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes the process of developing his identity as an artist
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight talks about discovering black history
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight talks about expressing his love of jazz through sculpture
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes how using the "negative space" technique helped him become a commercial success
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight talks about how Miles Davis is his favorite sculpting subject
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight talks about some of his contemporary pieces
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight talks about the challenges of gaining financial backing as a black artist
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight talks about the controversy surrounding the African American History Monument in Charleston, South Carolina, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about the controversy surrounding the African American History Monument in Charleston, South Carolina, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes the criticism of his work by the black community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight talks about how people expect less of him because he is a black artist
  • Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Ed Dwight talks about being trained as an architect and land developer
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ed Dwight describes his creative process, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Ed Dwight describes his creative process, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Ed Dwight reflects on his work
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Ed Dwight talks about developing his black identity
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Ed Dwight describes how people react to black identity as it is depicted in his work
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Ed Dwight talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Ed Dwight describes the potential of his work for the black community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Ed Dwight talks about blacks' failure to create positive cultural representations of themselves
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Ed Dwight describes his hopes and concerns for the black arts community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Ed Dwight talks about psychological racism
  • Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Ed Dwight describes his concerns for today's youth
  • Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Ed Dwight talks about how he would like to be remembered