Hidden Figures was a film that told the true story of the female African-American mathematicians (so skilled in their field they were known as “human computers”) who held irreplaceable roles at NASA in the ’60s, making vital contributions to the US space program.
The film was not only a hit at the box office, but it also inspired millions of little girls–little girls of color, most importantly–that their aspirations in STEM were not only worth chasing, but are vital to the field. Hidden Figures taught us the name of these amazing women–Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson– and now NASA is honoring one of them with her very own research building.
On September 22, the NASA’s 37,000-square-foot, 23 million-dollar, state-of-the-art research facility in Hampton, Virginia was officially christened the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility. As The Root reports, the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony featured Johnson and the important STEM club, Black Girls Code, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. You can watch some of the ceremony here:
While it’s amazing to see NASA honor one of the women of color who was key to the foundation of our space program, Johnson was a bit shocked to hear the news saying, “You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy.” While Johnson may not have initially seen the point in giving a state-of-the-art research center her name, the author of the Hidden Figures book and keynote speaker to the ribbon-cutting, Margot Lee Shetterly, made sure to highlight Johnson’s trail-blazing contributions to the scientific field. “Telling your story has been an honor,” Shetterly explained. “Your work changed our history and your history has changed our future.”
Feature Image: 20th Century Fox
Image credit: David C. Bowman/NASA
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