Best Person to Know Only Through the Monument to Him (2008)


DR. RONALD ERWIN MCNAIR, African American astronaut, physicist, teacher, and musician, died in the 1986 Challenger explosion. A nine-foot-tall, three-sided red granite obelisk—adorned with his bronze, space-suited bust on one side, karate-kicking profile on another, and an earth-orbiting shuttle on the third—sits, as if prepared for launch, in the center of the shady Prospect Heights mini-park named for him, down the street from the Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Gardens. The park was previously dedicated to a local politician from the turn of last century, whose bust was stolen and replaced with an urn meant for holding flowers.


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