In 1959, nine-year old Ron McNair wanted to check out some books for the Lake City Public Library in his native South Carolina. The library, however, was segregated and Ron, who was African-American was denied his request. Hurt and angered, he refused to leave. His mother was called, along with local police. After much discussion and negotiations, Ron was permitted to leave with several books.
That eager-to-learn young man went on to become valedictorian of his high school graduating class. He furthered his studies at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and earned Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics, magna cum laude. Ron later received a PhD in Physics from MIT and became well respected in the field of laser physics.
In 1978, Ron was chosen to join the NASA astronaut program. He trained extensively and in 1984, he became the second African-American to go up in space. In January 1986, Ron was killed along with the other crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded 73 seconds into its mission. Ron was 35 years old.
In 2011, The Lake City Public Library was renamed in his honor and memory.