José M. Hernández with astronaut dress Beasts

Son of Migrant Workers Literally Goes to the Moon

Inspired by hearing a first-gen American astronaut on the radio, Jose Hernandez left the fields of California to journey into outer space.

In 2004, José M. Hernández finally went to the moon after 11 attempts – but how he got there is why he’s the most impressive astronaut in the universe.

The child of Mexican migrant workers in California, Hernández remembers the moment he realized he wanted to go to space:

“I was hoeing a row of sugar beets in a field near Stockton, California, and I heard on my transistor radio that Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps. I was already interested in science and engineering, but that was the moment I said, ‘I want to fly in space.’ And that’s something I’ve been striving for each day since then.”

 

 

This NowThis video details Hernández’s incredible journey to space, but it’s the fact that he was inspired to do so by Chang-Diaz, a Costa Rican-American astronaut of Chinese descent, that really blew our minds. This is what people mean when they talk about representation and inclusion – when kids look on TV and see someone that reminds them of themselves achieving greatness, they realize that they can, too.

Hernández is so much more than a man who never gave up on reaching the stars. Seriously, he even founded a nonprofit to help other kids get there. His journey that began as the child of migrant farmers is evidence that representation and inclusion really do work. We’re looking at a cycle of inspiration for all of us. What’s more American than that?

Recently, he made a video in support of DREAMers.

 

Beasts

Claudette Colvin, Original Woman Who Refused to Give Up Her Seat

Before Rosa Parks sat down, there was Claudette.

Most history books forget that Claudette Colvin is an African-American who refused to give up her seat on the bus, nine months before Rosa Parks.

It was March 2nd, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, when Colvin paid her fare and refused to get up from the seat for a white woman. She’d been studying Black history in high school that month and felt inspired by Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. She felt the spirit of those two women pushing her down in her seat, telling her not to give it up.

“All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily,” Colvin told NPR. She was put in handcuffs and taken to the local jail.

 

Claudette Colvin, age 15.

 

After the incident, her civil disobedience didn’t make much of a splash. She was young and soon became pregnant. Because of this, her courageous act went all but unnoticed for many years. In fact, people began to think of her as a ‘troublemaker’ within her community and she had difficulty finding employment, and soon moved to New York.

While the court decided she was guilty in her legal case and she was given probation, Colvin did go on to serve as a plaintiff in the historic Browder v. Gayle legal case, which ended the Montgomery Bus Boycott and segregation on public buses in the city.

Many think if it wasn’t for Colvin, the media wouldn’t have paid much attention to Rosa Parks and the movement that followed. For this, we offer her immense gratitude.

If you want to learn the rest of her story, peep her interview with Teen Vogue here. Then go read Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, authored by Phil Hoose.

 

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