The Central Park Conservancy, in partnership with National Geographic, kicked off their 20th Annual Central Park Conservancy Film Festival on Tuesday, August 15th with a screening of National Geographic’s The Space Race.
A pre-screening reception took place across the street at Central Park’s premier restaurant, The Tavern Green, just right across the street where the screening would later take place in Sheep Meadow. Among the guests in attendance were directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, along with NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, who not only shared his insights and experiences in the film, but also served as one of the doc’s producers. Enjoying a selection of charcuterie and small bites, along with a pasta bar and a wine bar, guests mingled as a jazz band played in the back.
Attendees were then directed to head over to Sheep Meadow to a private viewing area to watch The Space Race on an inflatable screen. Each guest received a National Geographic swag bag with a waterproof blanket and a selection of sustainable and plant-based snacks to enjoy during the film.
The Space Race, which made its official premiere at the Tribeca Festival back in June, was an eye-opening deep-dive into the history of Black Americans in NASA, and the unjust barriers they had to overcome that, ultimately, prevented some trailblazers, such as Captain Ed Dwight, from taking part in our country’s earliest space missions. Yet, it came with much satisfaction to hear everyone cheer for Nichelle Nichols (who passed away in July of last year) as the film featured a PSA in which the Star Trek star spoke to everyone, including “minorities and women alike,” to apply to NASA. “Now is YOUR time,” she said, giving the brilliant minds she had already inspired as Lt. Nyota Uhura the push they needed to shoot for their dreams.
Thanks to a documentary like The Space Race, every Black astronaut who answered that call, and those who paved the way for them to find their place in NASA, now have their legacy cemented in the stars—where future astronauts can look up to them in awe.