NASA has honored pioneering mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson with a permanent tribute at the space headquarters.
The women, who were portrayed in the critically acclaimed film, were also the inspiration for NASA’s renaming of the street in front of its headquarters to Hidden Figures Way. Being the brains behind astronaut John Glenn’s launch into orbit, the sharp and intuitive African-American women broke both gender and racial barriers all while influencing generations to come.
Members of the trio’s legacy were in attendance at the reveal alongside Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly and members of their family, NPR reports.
Honoring Hidden Figures: Here's the moment that the street outside of NASA HQ in Washington, D.C., was officially renamed to honor the black female mathematicians who paved the way for NASA to make it to space. Read the story: https://t.co/t6jWn4V6Y5 pic.twitter.com/syqy4MWOEX
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) June 12, 2019
“Naming this street Hidden Figures Way serves to remind us, and everyone who comes here, of the standard that was set by these women, with their commitment to science and their embodiment of the values of equality, justice and humanity,” Shetterly said. “But, let it also remind us of the Hidden Figures way, which is to open our eyes to [contributions] of the people around us so that their names, too, are the ones that we remember at the end of the story.”
Ted Cruz, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on aviation and space, had a hand in introducing the bill regarding the street name change. It is reported that Cruz initially propelled for the name change after watching the film–his mother was an elite mathematician at the Smithsonian during the same generation as the dynamic triad.
“Women and men across every racial and ethnic line have contributed to this incredible journey we’re on and I think it is also vitally important that we send the message to little girls and little boys that there is no limit to what you can accomplish,” Cruz said.
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Katherine Johnson. Dorothy Vaughan. Mary Jackson. — Known as the #HiddenFigures, these women HAND calculated the trajectories that launched astronauts into orbit 🌕 but their names were left out of history for a long time after. Yesterday, the 300 block of E Street SW in Washington DC outside of the @NASA HQ was officially renamed Hidden Figures Way to honor them and remind the world what women can do. #WomenInTech #STEM #Space