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Watch ‘The Old Negro Space Program’ – Short Mockumentary Imagining Black Space Program

Watch 'The Old Negro Space Program' - Short Mockumentary Imagining Black Space Program

As I watched it, Frances Bodomo’s “Afronauts” short film (soon to be a feature) immediately came to mind, although different stories (alternative histories of the “space race”), a continent apart, but both of the Diaspora.

The fellow who put this together – Andy Bobrow – is a writer and producer on the TV comedy series “Community.”

Bobrow’s shared the following on the film’s making: “It’s a short film I made in 2003. I had the title first. It made me laugh. Then I made the movie, slowly. I figured if it sucked I wouldn’t show it to anyone. It did not suck, so here it is. This was shown at the HBO Comedy Festival in 2004 (back when it was the Aspen Comedy Festival). And even before that, it helped me get my first tv writing job on “Malcolm in the Middle.” Also it was one of the first shorts to “go viral,” and I’m very proud of it. ‘The Old Negro Space Program’ has been good to me. I hope you enjoy it.”

It’s a few years old (done pre-Funny or Die and pre-YouTube, I’m told), but I thought it was still worth sharing, as I’m sure many of you haven’t seen it either. And I thought it would maybe be contentious, if only because Bobrow,its creator, is white:

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This is funny Afro-Futurism comedy! There is more truth to it than might be thought. My father and uncle were science engineers during this period. They helped design parts for the Apollos in the 1960's, before the space program was co-opted by the military.

It's a spoof, but there is an untold story here. The companies that NASA contracted in the 1950's, recruited heavily in the Black Universities in the South. The Black engineers were payed well, but not treated, credited and promoted as well as their White colleagues. It was more of an indirect cultural dis, than an overtly racist system. When I think about my fathers scientific genius being exploited, I can't help but wander what would have happened if it had been utilized more within the Black community. God knows if they wouldn't let us drink out of a water fountain, they sure wasn't gonna let us develop our own space program! Kings dream of integration is a glorious one. Perhaps with today's vision, our scientist can develop stronger industrial foundations within our communities as well as develop the worlds. After years of working for someone else, one day my Father looked at me and said, if I had to do it again, "I would work for myself."


Very clever. Funny parody not only of the times and the culture, but the "distinguished" white professor-type explaining the story. The actor nailed the sensibility of people like that who are interviewed in documentaries.

ben je

really funny,good one.

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