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Astronaut Ronald McNair smiles while holding a film slate. He wears a name badge that says Cecil B. McNair.

The Space Race

  Lisa Cortés, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

  United States     91 minutes


Pioneers in civil rights and outer space, Black astronauts like Guion Bluford, Victor Glover, and Chicago’s own Mae Jemison boldly ventured where no Black Americans had ever gone before. The Space Race is the untold story of their adventures in flight and the social forces they endeavored to transcend. Anchored by the story of Ed Dwight — who was handpicked by JFK to be the first African-American in space before he was dropped from the mission — the film chronicles the personal and political battles these pioneers encountered through the decades.

Filled with rich historical footage and candid interviews with many self-proclaimed  “Afronauts,” the film connects their ambitions with cultural forces like the Black Power movement and the Afrofuturism of icons like musician Sun Ra and author Octavia Butler. Expansive, moving, and uplifting, the film is a profound act of reclamation, giving voice to a group of trailblazers, who have been largely missing from the official history — until now.


Screenings & Events

In-Person Screening

Sun, Oct 15 @ 2:00pm CDT

at Chicago History Museum

Special Guests*: Directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
*Subject to change

In-Person Screening

Mon, Oct 16 @ 2:30pm CDT

at Siskel Center, Screen 1

Special Guests*: Directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
*Subject to change
Accessibility options for this screening:
  • Open Captions
Learn more about accessibility options...


Film Credits

  •   Alexandra Bowen, Aly Parker, Mark Monroe, Keero Birla, Lisa Cortés, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
  •   Frank Marshall, Tony Rosenthal, Carolyn Bernstein, Leland Melvin
  •   Kennedy/Marshall Company


Program Sponsors

logo: Allstate 199x50Logo: WTTW (2019)Cynthia Stone Raskin