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Grant number: FZ-231704-15

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FZ-231704-15

Diane McWhorter
Unknown institution

Moon of Alabama: The Space Race and Civil Rights in Post-WWII Huntsville

The research and writing of a book contextualizing the moon landing within the convergence of three major 20th-century dramas—World War II, the Cold War, and the civil rights struggle—in the unlikely military-industrial complex of Huntsville, Alabama.

After World War II, the United States “procures” the Third Reich’s rocket expert, Wernher von Braun,with 115 other Germans responsible for Hitler’s V-2 (“Vengeance”) missile. In the U.S. they design the rocket that puts the first man on the Moon. This technological marvel, the U.S. vehicle of moral superiority over the Soviets, is achieved in the segregated backwater of Alabama, where the “master race” is pursuing a fateful agenda. While von Braun is refashioning the Nazi wonder weapon into a noble Cold War artifact, the African-American freedom movement has turned the Germans’ adopted state into the prime domestic battleground for human rights—and the Russians’ best propaganda gambit. Touching on practically every conceivable moral conundrum, this will be the first book to chronicle the Moon landing through the convergence of three major 20th-century dramas—World War II, the Cold War, the civil rights struggle—in the unlikely military-industrial complex of Huntsville, Alabama.

Project fields:
African American History; History of Science; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2016 – 7/31/2017