'Hidden Figures' unveiled: NASA's Washington headquarters to be renamed after Mary...

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Home / More Lifestyle / ‘Hidden Figures’ unveiled: NASA’s Washington headquarters to be renamed after Mary W. Jackson, the first Black woman engineer

With the Black Lives Matter movement ongoing, NASA is taking the initiative to rename their headquarters after the first female African American engineer, Mary W. Jackson.

more-lifestyle Updated: Jun 26, 2020 16:33 IST

Mary W. Jackson, the first female African American engineer at NASA. Mary W. Jackson, the first female African American engineer at NASA. (instagram @nasa)

With the Black Lives Matter movement that has been raging for a few weeks now, it seems the world is finally catching up in terms of acknowledging its rich African American heritage. The movement has been instrumental in bringing many African American figures into the limelight, and acknowledge their contributions to modern society.

Last year, in honour of the many contributions of all the previously marginalised people, NASA renamed the street outside their headquarters as the ‘Hidden Figures Way’. Just yesterday, Jim Bridenstine, a NASA administrator, announced that their Washington headquarters will be renamed after Mary Jackson, who overcame hurdles to become NASA’s first Black woman engineer.

In the 1940’s NASA was recruiting African American college graduates as ‘human computers’ for their first-ever attempt to venture into space. To no one’s surprise they faced racism and gender discrimination at work. In 1958, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which would later become NASA, hired their first African American female engineer, Mary W. Jackson.

The 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures’ sheds light on her contributions as an engineer. A few years after Mary Jackson’s death in 2005, she was awarded the ‘Congressional Golf Medal’ for her immense contribution not just to NASA but also to American history. The ‘Congressional Gold Medal’ is the highest award granted to civilians in the United States.

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👩🏾‍🔬🚀🌟 Mary Jackson never accepted the status quo.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Today we announced that our headquarters building in Washington, DC, will be named after engineer Mary W. Jackson, who overcame barriers to become NASA’s first Black woman engineer. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Jackson started her NASA career in 1951 at what is now @NASALangley in Virginia as a human computer – a mathematician who performed hand calculations for NASA missions. After two years working in the West Area Computing unit, she received an offer to work in Langley’s Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, where she conducted extensive aeronautics research and authored or co-authored over a dozen research papers. She was promoted and, in 1958, became our first Black woman engineer.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ In 1979, Jackson made a final career change, leaving engineering to become the program manager for NASA Langley’s Federal Women’s Program. She would dedicate the rest of her career to the hiring and promotion of the next generation of women mathematicians, scientists, and engineers. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019 and was portrayed by @JanelleMonae in the Oscar-winning film #HiddenFigures.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Our Administrator @JimBridenstine noted, "We know there are many other people of color and diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our success, which is why we’re continuing the conversations started about a year ago with the agency’s Unity Campaign. NASA is dedicated to advancing diversity, and we will continue to take steps to do so."⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ #MaryJackson #BlackinStem #womeninSTEM #nasa

A post shared by NASA (@nasa) on Jun 24, 2020 at 3:23pm PDT

Mary Jackson was a pioneer, setting the example for hundreds of people from different walks of life to break the barriers of racism and sexism in the workplace and contribute to the betterment of society. With NASA renaming their headquarters after Mary Jackson, her daughter Carolyn Lewis commented on how she and her family are honoured that NASA is celebrating Jackson’s legacy.

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