Which is not to say he didn't take a quiet pride in serving as a role model for African-American youths. Anderson, an Air Force lieutenant colonel, reminded audiences that he had overcome stiff odds, that he was often the only black student in physics and astronomy courses at the University of Washington and was one of only seven active black astronauts out of a total of 80 at NASA. He was also undaunted by the risks he ran, says the Rev. Freemon Simmons, who married Michael and Sandra. If the shuttle didn't come , Simmons says Anderson once told him, " 'Don't worry about me. I'm just going higher.' "
For more on the Columbia tragedy, pick up the Feb. 17 issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.
Written by: BILL HEWITT, J. D. HEYMAN, PAM LAMBERT, PATRICK ROGERS, ALEX TRESNIOWSKI
Reported by: ANNA MACIAS AGUAYO, ALICE JACKSON BAUGHN, SHERMAKAYE BASS, KEVIN BRASS, GABRIELLE COSGRIFF, THERESA CRAPANZANO, ALICIA DENNIS, SUSAN GRAY-GOSE, LORNA GRISBY, MICHAEL HAEDERLE, STEVE HELLING, HERB KEINON, ANNE LANG, JEAN MACFARLANE, STEVE MCVICKER, PETE NORMAN, JANE PODESTA; ZELIE POLLON, DAVID ORR, LORI ROZSA, CAROL RUST, JOY SEWING, VICKI SHEFF-CAHAN, MIKE SMITH, SANDRA SOBIERAJ, LYNDON STAMBLER, JEFF TRUESDELL, TRINE TSOUDEROS
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