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Citadel News Service
8 Feb 2017

Hidden History: Former Citadel professor worked on Apollo 11

As seen on News 2

The launch of Apollo 11 was a turning point in American history. It assured American’s that our country was focused on exploring a whole new frontier.

The race to space would not have been possible without brilliant scientist and engineers such as Dr. Morris Roper, a man who was raised in a segregated community, but discovered unity in the mission to put a man on the moon. Dr. Morris Roper’s story is a part of our history.

“We did Apollo because of the Russians,” said Dr. Roper. “The Russians had shot sputnik up in the sky and we could see it, moving so many thousands of feet up in the air.”

Dr. Roper, who grew up in Downtown Charleston, SC, has been in the front seat of change many times during his 88 years. “I was the only one, the only African American in the flight test analysis station.”

Scientist were breaking ground working for NASA contractor. “My involvement in it was the reliability and quality assurance design.”

As a black man, Dr. Roper was shattering the glass ceiling and the atmosphere.

“This was a project, the Apollo that was the most significant achievement in the history of mankind. Man has never done anything quite that elaborate.” He admits that his work on the Apollo is unparalleled. “Now that I am older I really understand what I did.”

Dr. Roper first gained his technical experience working with early guided-missile systems while working for the U.S. military. Dr. Roper commanded all ethnic troops for the first time in the history of the United States military.

His academic skills took him from the military service to space missions, to the head of the college classroom. The scientist who helped astronauts reach the moon has also helped local students reach their potential as a volunteer and teacher at Charleston Progressive Academy. He also taught and lectured at Southern Wesleyan University, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, and Charleston Progressive Academy Public Charter School.

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