In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I — and, simultaneously, the space race. At the moment Sputnik was hurtling out of Earth's atmosphere, federal troops were deployed in Little Rock, Arkansas, tasked with integrating Central High School in compliance with the Brown decision. Throughout the next decade and beyond, space exploration and the Black Freedom Movement would race along in tandem, frequently intersecting with one another in unexpected and consequential ways. Yet surprisingly little scholarly work has been dedicated to excavating those intersections. This compelling volume of essays is a critical first step in correcting this deficiency.

The pieces here cover a broad array of topics, locales, and time periods but are united by two historiographic innovations. The first is the so-called “long civil rights movement” explicated by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall in a 2005 essay (and elucidated further...

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