“For that kind of money,” Kurt Vonnegut cracked on the CBS Evening News about the Apollo 11 moon landing, “the least NASA can do is discover God.” At the time of the mission, civil rights activists, anti-Vietnam War protesters and even top scientists were skeptical of its purpose and doubtful of its value. Contributions of women and black people like test pilot Ed Dwight were diminished and buried for years. Nostalgia lends itself to glossing over the protest and unrest of the time.
In November 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, a mob of 2,000 white men expelled black and white political leaders, destroyed the property of the city’s black residents, and killed dozens--if not hundreds--of people. For decades, the story of this violence was buried, while the perpetrators were cast as heroes.