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First black astronaut to walk in space will speak to Dallas students Saturday

He will stand before his Dallas audience as the embodiment of the possible and the can-do spirit, as a pioneer who has gone where few have been before.

He is astronaut, businessman and physician Bernard Harris Jr. — the first black person to walk in space.

Dr. Harris will be in Dallas to promote STEM programs — those in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to about 1,200 Dallas-Fort Worth-area students. Advocates say STEM programs are training grounds that help students achieve career heights and life goals like those of Harris, who in 1995 logged his groundbreaking, five-hour walk as a member of the space shuttle Discovery flight crew.

Harris with be featured with other national high achievers at the free YouthSpark Live from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Dallas’ Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.

YouthSpark Live is a national initiative in which tech giant Microsoft has partnered with nonprofits, schools, businesses and government agencies to show students the benefits of pursuing STEM studies. In Dallas, the lead co-sponsor is The Confidence Group, based in a Las Colinas. The group offers STEM, music and life skills programs that build confidence in youths and train them in ways to succeed and to help their families and communities.

Activities will include seminars, an expo, technology games, music, entertainment and giveaways, including Xbox products, robotics kits and theme park tickets.

Other featured speakers and guests will include entrepreneur and author Stedman Graham and aerospace expert and drone industry pioneer Dyan Gibbens.

Harris, 60, has deep Texas ties. Born in Temple, he studied and earned degrees at more than seven institutions. He graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, earned a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Houston, an M.D. from the Texas Tech University School of Medicine and a master’s in biomedical science at The University of Texas Medical Branch. He also worked as a clinical scientist and flight surgeon at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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