Bernard Harris Jr.

Hit play if you prefer to listen to the audio

Bernard Harris Jr’s dream was to be an astronaut and to walk in space. On the 9th February 1995, he made that dream come true.

Born in Temple Texas in 1956, Bernard grew up absorbing all things science fiction, and watching the Apollo 11 in 1969 was something that he could never forget.

He couldn’t ignore what has happening around him, the Civil Rights movement was in full effect, he witnessed police dogs attack Black protestors and being hosed down with water cannons.

Despite what was going on he continued to walk in the faith of his dreams, he was bolstered by his mother Gussie Harris who drilled in him that he could grow up to be anything that he wanted despite growing up poor.

Bernard’s parents divorced when he was six and Gussie was granted custody of the three children. After moving to Greasewood Arizona to teach at a boarding school, the family would come back to Texas for the summer.

Gussie met and married Joe Burgess a police officer. Bernard said his stepfather helped bring stability to a family set on accomplishing goals.

Harris explained “There are certain characteristics you’re born with, and mine was wanting to do things that people hadn’t done before. Once I had it in my mind that I wanted to go into space, I was not going to be deterred.”

Studying at the University of Houston, he then followed with the Texas Tech Medical School.

His first rotation was in rheumatology with Dr. Joseph Combs who ended up changing the course of his life.

Harris eagerly shared his NASA aspirations, and Combs introduced him to the head of the Aerospace Medicine program.

“I didn’t know there was an Aerospace Medicine department there,” Harris said. “This is why I always think that God takes care of you.” 

Harris chose bone research as his endocrinology specialty, which became his ticket into the astronaut program.

In August 1990, Harris began a year of training and evaluation with 22 classmates at the Johnson Space Center. 

Upon completion of the program, he was prepared to wait several months, perhaps years, before his first assignment.

It finally happened three weeks later when he was selected first in his class for a mission.

The launch, which included an international crew, would be aborted twice before the successful attempt on April 26th, 1993.

Then on the 9th February 1995, Harris became the first African American to complete a Spacewalk.

Harris has a saying: ‘If you hold something in your heart deep enough, the universe conspires to make those things happen.’ He is living proof!

We at Adeptales, salute you, Bernard Harris Jr.

Leave a Reply