Astronaut Mae Jemison moves to new career

Jan 17, 2006

In 1992 Mae Jemison gained fame as the first black female astronaut to go into space, flying on the shuttle Endeavor.

But Jemison, also a physician, although charging $18,000 for a speech, now concerns herself more with healthcare than her space accomplishments.

She spoke Sunday night at Indiana University-Purdue University 36th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner in Indianapolis.

"Having been an astronaut gives me a platform," she told the Indianapolis Star during an interview before her speech, "but I'd blow it if I just talked about the shuttle."

Instead, she says she now focuses on what she sees as unacceptable disparities in the quality of healthcare in the United States and Third World nations.

"We talk about taking proper care of people, but we don't do it," she said. "We lack the commitment. Martin Luther King was about doing things. He didn't just have a dream, he got things done.

"My message is about seeing possibilities and having the courage to work toward them."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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