Date of Award
July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon. To commemorate this historic anniversary, NASA held festivals, and people published books and released movies that reflected the triumph of the Apollo 11 mission. However, this celebratory media fails to illustrate the dissent against the program that existed during the 1960s. This era marked a contentious decade in American history, and the world at large, with a rise in protests and civil unrest fueled by the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. At this same time, the United States was engaged in the space race with the Soviet Union amidst the Cold War. Despite being painted as a nationalistic, patriotic endeavor by government leaders, such as President Kennedy, the Apollo program was not accepted as progress for all Americans, and activists took issue with what the pursuit of space meant for American society. While at this time some Americans saw the Apollo program as a glorious depiction of American superiority and progress, others found these efforts in space to be an example of wasteful government spending and indicative of government officials’ discriminatory priorities at a time when many Black Americans were facing racism and poverty. Others viewed government officials and media outlets’ treatment of the Apollo program as hypocritical given the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and saw the moonshot as evidence of further American imperialism. This research seeks to complicate popular memory of the Apollo program by bringing to light these critical voices.
Combs, Victoria R., "The Dark Side of the Moon: Unpacking Civil Rights and Student Antiwar Criticism of the Apollo Program" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 605.