Colonel Charles Bolden is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. He was educated at W. A. Perry Junior High School and C. A. Johnson High School where his father was football coach and his mother, the librarian. He was taught early the value of respecting other people's rights and opinions. "You look at a person for who they are and what they have to contribute, and try to ignore any exterior appearances," he says. His mother taught him that a person has unlimited powers. She said, "You use the powers within you to do, and be what you want to be."
Colonel Bolden began his higher academic and military career at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Along with other achievements, he became the first black class president. Excellence in education, especially math and science was a guiding force for him since his junior high science project. Today, he enjoys personal appearances with students, and emphasizes hard work and study.
After graduation from the academy, he became an officer in the Marine Corps. He served as a naval jet pilot in Vietnam, then became a naval test pilot before being accepted in the astronaut program at the NASA LBJ Space Centre in Houston, Texas. He has accomplished numerous successes, and as of this writing (August 1992), is still very active in the space program.
As Dr Ron McNair spoke at a University of South Carolina commencement exercise, he said, "the road between South Carolina and space flight is not a very simple one, nor is it one filled with guarantees. In fact, the only guarantees to be found are those that reside in the unchallenged depths of one's own determination. The true courage of space flight is not strapping into one's seat prior to lift off. It is not sitting above six million pounds of fire and thunder as one rocket expels away from the planet, but the true courage comes in enduring, and as Colonel Bolden has said, 'persevering the preparation."'