She Traveled To Space, Only To Be Brutalized On Earth

mae jemison in a space craft
Shonda Buchanan
September 13, 2022

On February 24, 1996, Mae Jemison saw a police car’s flashing lights and instinctively felt dread. But when she finally pulled over, the next 24 hours became even more of a nightmare.

The police officer’s flashlight dug into her eyes. He barked at her to get out of the car – apparently she had a warrant out for an unpaid speeding ticket! But as she tried to explain, he twisted her wrist, forced her to the ground, and pushed her face into the pavement!

He made her walk barefoot to the patrol car, where he shoved her into the backseat and slammed the door. Despite her fame and accomplishments, or how much she had given to this country, this police officer was still targeting her. But how?

Mae Jemison, a Peace Corps volunteer and the first Black woman to go into space in 1992, was brutalized. If achieving at the highest level can’t earn us respect from racist police, nothing will. 

Still, she didn’t go down without a fight.

Jemison filed a lawsuit against the officer and the police department. Unfortunately, like many cases today, he wasn’t even prosecuted. But there’s a lesson here: no amount of accomplishments will ever grant us humanity in the eyes of the white supremacist police system – racism never sleeps!

So, what will you do to fight it?

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