In 1963, Air Force Captain Ed Dwight was assigned as the deputy for flight test at the bomber test group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio. Dwight was a hot-shot pilot—a recent graduate of the elite Aerospace Research Pilot School, recommended by an Air Force board for NASA’s astronaut training program. A Catholic publication put news of his arrival on its cover; a parishioner heard that Dwight was having trouble finding a nice home for his family, and rented him a house in the booming suburb of Huber Heights.
Dwight was black. Ebony reported what happened next:
Soon after the Dwights moved in, the harassment began. His auto took the most punishment: grease was smeared over the spark plugs, air was let out of tires, and at night the vehicle was pelted with rocks. Shouts of “niggers, go home!” met the family almost every day. Dwight finally decided to move after a brick was thrown through a window and his daughter, Tina, was showered with broken glass.
The New York Times reporter Richard Faussett recently sat down to dinner with Tony Hovater, and his wife, Maria, at an Applebee’s in Huber Heights. Faussett was struck by how ordinary Hovater seemed. “His Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother,” he wrote, calling him “polite and low key.” They had turkey sandwiches at a Panera Bread. Faussett had come to Ohio, “amid the row crops and rolling hills, the Olive Gardens and Steak ’n Shakes,” to solve a riddle, as he later reflected: “Why did this man—intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases—gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?”