First African-American woman in space reunites with man she saved 35 years ago

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The first African-American woman in space was on firm ground Wednesday at Levi's Stadium, where she reunited with a man whose life she saved 35 years ago in war-torn West Africa.

Dr. Mae Jemison delivered the keynote at the "Beyond Innovation Conference." The 49ers and Beyond Sport hosted the event to explore using sports to promote STEM.

Jemison says growing up in the 60s in Chicago, she always reached for the stars. Her dream took her to Stanford, Cornell Medical School and NASA.

In 1992, she became the first black female astronaut to travel in space, aboard the shuttle Endeavour, undeterred by the Challenger disaster just a few years before.

On Wednesday, she urged the audience to never forget to lift up others. "What does it matter if you have a place at the table and you act just like everyone else and you mind your table manners," she said.

There was an emotional reunion between Jemison and the man she saved in Sierra Leone in the 1980s.

Jemison was a young doctor for the Peace Corps, and Dan Anisman fell gravely ill. Other doctors diagnosed him with malaria. Jemison disagreed, ordering a military evacuation to the Air Force hospital in Germany, despite resistance from embassy officials.

"She put the cocktails together and this and that because Sierra Leone, they didn't have everything and the electricity was bad. She knew I was not in good condition," Anisman remembered.

"You have to learn how to do your job and you take responsibility for what you're supposed to do. You can't let other people push you around," Jemison said.

She didn't. As a result, Anisman survived. And today, he's a volunteer coach for the Special Olympics in Oakland, savoring a very special reunion.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.