ARNALDO TOMAYO MENDEZ: 1ST BLACK MAN IN SPACE
On this day September 18th, 1980 Afro-Cuban, Arnaldo Tomayo Mendez becomes the first man of African descent to orbit the Earth.
Born in Baracoa, Guantanamo province Mendez joined the Association of young rebels who fought along side Fidel Castro and his “26th day Movement” toppling the Batista regime winning the Cuban revolution.
He later became a decorated fighter pilot fighting in the Cuban missle crisis for the Cuban revolutionary guard. He also served in the Vietnam war and in 1978 was selected to join the Intercosmos program and moved to Russia to train.
Upon his return he was the 1st to be awarded the “Hero of the Republic of Cuba” award.