Mary Jackson finally gets the recognition she deserves at NASA
She began her career in 1951 as part of a segregated unit of Black women engineers highlighted in the movie Hidden Figures.
NASA renamed its Washington D.C headquarters after Mary Jackson, their first African American woman engineer, whose story was portrayed in the film Hidden Figures.
The street in front of NASA headquarters was given the name Hidden Figures Way in 2019.
Jackson graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1942 with a dual degree in math and physical sciences. She began her career in 1951 as part of a segregated unit of Black women mathematicians in what is now the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
They did calculations in the pre-computer days of the U.S Space Program. Jackson was eventually promoted to engineer, and in 1979, joined Langley’s Federal Women’s Program to influence the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’S science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
She retired in 1985 and passed away in 2005 at 101 years old. In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, along with her esteemed Black colleagues Christine Darden, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan.
“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said in a statement Wednesday.
In their news release on Wednesday, NASA reported that Mary Jackson’s daughter, Carolyn Lewis, was honored by their decision.
“She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation,” said Lewis.
For many people, Jackson’s legacy was unknown until the film Hidden Figures was released, but she is someone we all should know about. Now that the nation is calling for racial justice and equity, it’s time to honor the Black pioneers and inspiring figures and bring them out of the dark.