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tv   Nightline  ABC  July 13, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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[ cheers and applause ] this is "nightline." >> tonight, the new space race. >> welcome to space. >> billionaire richard branson known for his stunts, now his biggest adventure yet. >> we've been to space! >> but more than just the exploits of the uber rich, potential benefits for all humankind. >> this capability is going to transform the research and technology that we can develop in microgravity. plus, summer of soul. the new hulu documentary. the harlem cultural festival. >> are you ready, black people, are you ready? >> soul superstar sly and the family stone, gladys knight, a teenage stevie wonder. a celebration of black culture that was almost lost. >> it was just sort of disposed of and forgotten about.
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m sgt.n. this is sam with usaa. do you see the tow truck? yes, thank you, that was fast. sgt. houston never expected this to happen. or that her grandpa's dog tags would be left behind. but that one call got her a tow and rental... ...paid her claim... ...and we even pulled a few strings. making it easy to make things right: that's what we're made for. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. get a quote today. good evening. thank you for joining us. the whole flight lasted just under an hour. richard branson with his five crewmates reaching the edge of space, floating freely in a weightless environment for breathtaking four minutes. history was made in that one
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small step for the billionaire. they've also been a giant leap for space travel. here's abc's transportation correspondent gio benitez. >> reporter: space, the final frontier. >> to me space is what is occupying the greatest of the stories that we tell in just the same way that the exotic voyages taken by intrepid explorers centuries ago, the role that they had played in the hearts and minds of those who read their books. >> reporter: in our neverending quest to understand our universe, this weekend humankind breaking new barriers, ushering in what could be the dawn of a new era. commercial space travel for civilians. sir richard branson, adventurer, entrepreneur, known for his extreme stunts, made history yesterday, becoming the first person to launch into space aboard his own spaceship. this is the new space race, not
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between superpowers like russia, china and the u.s., but between billionaires. >> instead of countries it is companies, often led by individuals that have different freedoms and different ways of doing business than their governments. >> reporter: branson, bezos and musk, three titans of the internet age, are all competing to win this next frontier of space exploration with the hope to bring not just astronauts but paying customers to the edge of our existence. but some critics say this race to space is the new sort of elitism, a chance to capitalize on the cosmos. >> richard branson, he started virgin galactic in order to democratize space and make space available to the masses? no. it's secondary. his first priority is establishing a business. >> reporter: branson's journey into space started sunday morning in new mexico around 8:40 a.m. local time.
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[ cheers and applause ] virgin galactic's mother ship eve carrying the spaceship "unity" with it, took to the skies. joining the billionaire on board, two pilots and three other civilian employees. >> they get up to about 45,000 feet and then they release that spaceship from the mother ship. >> three, two, one, release. >> they're going twice the speed of sound in less than ten seconds. >> reporter: at that point branson and his crew were blasted to the edge of space, giving them four minutes of weightlessness and the opportunity to look back at planet earth. >> for the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this just imagine what you can do. >> whoo! >> reporter: a very excited branson joined us right after. >> we've been to space! excuse us. excuse us. >> reporter: fellow astronaut and crew member sirisha bandla was by his side.
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she's only the third indian american woman to fly to space. >> i've gotten so many messages especially from young women saying they want to go to space also and they want to be an engineer, and it's just been incredible. >> reporter: branson and his team can now officially say they've won the so-called space race, beating jeff bezos's blue origin by nine days. but some argue that branson's and bezos's advancements in space tourism will only serve the ultra rich. to snag a spot on blue origin's upcoming flight an auction winner paid more than $28 million. virgin galactic hopes to start sending people into space next year, but their tickets are a whopping $250,000 per seat. >> when you hear that criticism from folks who say these are just joy rides for very rich people, what do you say? > well, i would say that if i go right back to when i was a child, i started with $200 and that $200 has now built a space
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company, employed hundreds of wonderful engineers and scientists, and that technology will help transform the earth. >> reporter: still, retired nasa astronaut katie coleman sees incredible value in these trips. >> by bringing so many different kinds of people up to space and letting them see that perspective of what it looks like to look back at the earth, it's our place, and that perspective is something that i think is really valuable down here on earth to try to face the challenging problems that we face today. >> reporter: in fact, bandla says yesterday she was actually conducting research. >> i flew up carrying research experiments actually strapped to my leg. i mean, this capability is going to transform the research and technology that we can develop in microgravity. >> reporter: branson's dream started back if 2004 when he first launched virgin galactic with the hope of bringing space travel to the masses. as he told former abc correspondent kate snow in 2007,
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he hoped to be rocketing into orbit in the late 2000s. >> my dad will be 91. my mother will be 88. and my son will be about 22. and my daughter will be about 26. >> and you plan to take all of them up? >> and they all want to come. and so it'll be a family affair going to space. >> reporter: his plans to reach space turned out to be a 17-year affair, sometimes fraught with tragedy like in 2014 when virgin galactic lost one of its pilots, michael allsberry, during one of the company's test flights. >> some painful moments in the last 17 years. some wonderful moments. but it's been 17 years of hard work. >> reporter: "the new yorker's" nicholas schmidtel witnessed much of that work firsthand and documented it in his book "test gods." >> i remember walking into that hangar in november of 2014 and there on the far side of the hangar was the husk of this spaceship that we saw yesterday
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fly to space. you know, it looked like a half-built car. >> reporter: schmidel says a large contributor to branson's success is his charisma. >> his relationship with the company is almost more a spiritual leader than it is a ceo. british billionaire who lives on a private island who runs a private rocket ship company in te middle of the desert. it doesn't get more eccentric and intriguing. but what he does, he leads, he's an inspiring guy. >> reporter: in recent years it's elon musk and his company spacex that have dominated the public consciousness of commercial space launches, sending u.s. astronauts to the international space station. it's a different approach than branson or bezos, but in the vast world of space exploration there's room for all three. >> whereas elon musk and jeff bezos are computer programmers, they believe that the algorithm will one day in some way -- you can program the algorithm to remove human fallibility, richard branson believes that you hire the best pilots and he
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believes it's the romance of having a human at the controls and now it remains to be seen which one is going to produce a more viable long-term business enterprise. >> it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. >> reporter: it's been more than half a century since american astronauts took one giant leap for humankind, ushering flay new age of exploration. the sense of wonderment in the world beyond our own is something world-renowned astro physicist neil degrasse tyson with his popular podcast and hit tv series has made his mission to share with others. >> if you go early in the evolution of our species, if you're asleep on your back and you wake up in the middle of the night you see the night sky. and if you do this each night you'll say oh, wapt a minute, there's this dot of light that's moving from night to night. things are happening.
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and i just wonder whether that simple fact stoked our cosmic curiosity over all these millennia. manifesting today as an urge to actually go there. >> reporter: maybe one day traveling into space will be as easy as buying a plane ticket. until that day comes, all most of us can do is look up and wonder. >> the fact people think oh, it's this contest, i don't flow if those rivalries exist. but in my experience every person that has gone to space, they're anything but tourists. they are curious. they bring real work with them. and when they get home they really make sure that the experience that they had creates ripples here on earth. >> if there's any gift that the exploration of space has and will continue to give us and will keep giving us is a sense of our frailty in this universe and an urgency for how much we need each other to become better
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shepherds of the civilization we have created so our descendants can be proud of what we have dne on this earth instead of embarrassed by it. >> our thanks to gio. up next, a soulful revolution. rediscovered for a new generation. ♪ not much longer would you be mine ♪ ♪ don't you know that i heard it through the grapevine ♪ ♪ ♪ oh, i heard it through the grapevine ♪ grapevine ♪ ♪ just about, we are thrilled we finally found our dream home in the mountains. the views are great, the air is fresh. (sfx: branches rustle) it is bear country though. hey boo-boo! we hit the jackpot! bear! bear! bear! look, corn on the cob! oohh chicken! don't mind if i do! they're hungry. t-bone! that's what i call a smorgasbord! at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. they do save us a ton of money. we'll take the cobbler to go! good idea, yogi. i'm smarter than the average bear! they're gone, dad! for bundling made easy, go to (vo) sensitive to cat allergens? join the thousands who've discovered a difference they're gone, dad!
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♪ the summer of 1969 was a turbulent time in america. in many ways the culmination of
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the viems aolence and protests e late '60s. almost lost in that chaotic time, the harlem cultural festival featuring some of the biggest names in black plukz. it was the first of its kind experience, largely lost to history, until now. ♪ it took me by surprise ♪ it was the summer of 1969 and something magical was happening deep in the heart of new york city. ♪ i heard it through the grapevine ♪ gladys knight and the pips mesmerizing the crowd with their live performance of "i heard it through the grapevine." ♪ just one of the many all-star musical acts at the harlem cultural festival. >> the harlem cultural festival was this beautiful event. sly and the family stone. b.b. king. nina simone. >> are you ready, black people? are you ready? >> all types of artists. pop acts of the day. gospel acts like mahalia jackson. all these key figures in black music came together. >> reporter: the breathtaking performances so beautifully documented in vivid color. now featured in the new hulu
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documentary "summer of soul." directed by amir thompson, otherwise known as questlove. >> this film is unpacking a lot of emotion for people that i didn't realize. >> reporter: the festival came at a heartbreaking historic time in black america. one year after the assassination of dr. martin luther king jr. >> the impetus of the whole festival was the fact that when martin luther king was assassinated all of america, inner city america, went up in flames with rioting and not wanting a repeat performance of what happened. that made it easier for the city to okay the idea of having some sort of event that would keep people occupied during the weekend. >> the festival's main goal was to remind us of who we are. remind us of what's important to us. remind us of where we came from and the community that we've
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managed to build in spice of everything that this country has done to try to tear us down. >> reporter: the festival showcased an astonishing group of performances. the likes of david ruffin of the temptations. ♪ i've got sunshine ♪ ♪ on a cloudy day ♪ a babyfaced 19-year-old stevie wonder. the chambers brothers. ♪ pop-soul group the fifth dimension. ♪ this is the dawning of the age o aquarius ♪ the crowd who'd come to see those acts, 300,000 strong. >> as far as i could see, it was just black people. this was the first time i'd ever seen so many of us. it was incredible! >> reporter: but the footage of the festival lost to history, buried in the archives for 50 years. >> just sort of disposed of and forgotten about, not really written about or celebrated.
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>> reporter: until now. brought back to life by questlove. >> i'm realizing that, you know, i'm looking at over 40 hours of footage of really some amazing performances and i'm just trying to rack my brain to think who would deny this? like who would deny these performances and these powerful stories? ♪ you know, it's 50 years later and i still feel as though the material is potent and strong enough to still inspire people and touch them. ♪ happy day ♪ >> reporter: that same summer 100 miles away another historic festival was taking place. one that was said to have defined an age of music and history. woodstock. >> it was just very, very beautiful. all the people were together. >> reporter: with iconic performances from the who,
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carlos santana, and jimi hendrix. >> woodstock comes out and suddenly all the facts that were on the festival were household names. >> reporter: while woodstock was hailed as a pivotal moment in popular culture, the harlem cultural festival was practically forgotten. ♪ ♪ calling to you ♪ >> the true lesson that i've learned from all this is that the term black erasure is real and not an exaggeration. this particular event wasn't allowed the same process, and it just sat in someone's basement for 50 years. my purpose was to correct history. >> reporter: it happened during a critical new era for black america. a time when pain gave way to purpose, progress, and defiance. >> you are having a younger generation sort of like the second generation of the civil rights movement that's more vocal, more demanding for justice and equal rights. so you have martin's era, the civil rights movement, which is more about peaceful protesting
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and a lot of patience in the face of bloodshed and disrespect. whereas now you're starting to see the panthers have a different approach to it where they're even intifying themselves as black, they're protesting louder. ♪ >> reporter: the documentary examining how black culture and identity itself was changing. >> it's a revolution, style revolution, cultural revolution. we found that the african styles just suit us better. >> the hair was the biggest change. afros. >> the black communities always embraced our blackness. the difference is is that we no longer hid it. whap shi what shifted was we were no longer comfortable being less so white races could be more. we decided to be our own selves. >> reporter: and as america continues to grapple with the history of racism looking back can be just as important as
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looking forward. ♪ and jupiter aligns with mars ♪ >> this is where black history week became black history month. and this is why we say black history always. because so many of these stories were simply denied or erased. this is an opportunity to pick up some of those pieces and put them in the books where they belong. ♪ oh happy day ♪ >> i hope to at least plant the seeds that you use your voice when the spirit compels you to and not to quiet your voice or to be neutral if you're afraid you're going to lose something in the process. i hope that's what people get from this. ♪ oh happy day ♪ ♪ oh happy day ♪ and up next, a grandmother's wish comes true. [♪] are you constantly cleaning and sanitizing your bathroom? for an easy solution that lasts,
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finally tonight, turns out it's never too late to have your dreams come true.
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martha mae ophelia moon tucker always wanted to wear a wedding dress. and her granddaughter just made that wish come true. taking her for her own bridal fitting. you see, when tucker married the love of her life in jim crow america 1952, black women were not allowed in bridal shops in the south. so she wore a navy blue dress. given to her by the family she worked for. and it's never too late to right a wrong. that's "nightline" for this evening. evening. catch our full episodes on is your family ready for an emergency? you can prepare by mapping out two ways to escape your home, creating a supply kit, and including your whole family in practice drills. for help creating an emergency plan, visit


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