Neil deGrasse Tyson seems a fixture these days, as a public figure and a representative of the science community. It would not be a stretch to call him the most prominent public scientist today. That wasn’t a given, however, when he was studying. Not just his rise to fame, but his being a scientist at all. There was pressure on him from other brilliant people to use his intellect toward advancing the cause of African Americans. That was hard to argue against, but his passion was astrophysics.
In this interview, Tyson explains the revelation that solved that moment for him, and propelled him to the career he has now. Watch the whole thing if you have time, but he starts getting into the meat of the issue at 3:40, and at 7:15 he gets into what spurred his key revelation.
The reboot of the wonderful science show Cosmos (previously hosted by Carl Sagan), starts on March 9th on FOX. I suggest you watch.