Long overdue, but necessary roses for those who paved the way!
NASA is renaming their headquarters in D.C. after Mary Jackson, its first Black female engineer, Bloomberg reports.
Mary Jackson was a former teacher and secretary for the army who became a part of the West Area Computing Unit at NASA's Langley Research Center in 1951. The unit consisted of a group of African American women who were responsible for hand calculating various equations that assisted with many of the early U.S. space missions. Jackson eventually went back to school to become an engineer, graduating from the University of Virginia and being certified in 1958.
During her time at NASA, Jackson was a staunch advocate for the hiring and promotion of many women at the company. She spent 34 years at NASA, retiring in 1985 and going on to dedicate her life to community initiatives that supported Black youth interested in STEM. Her work and legacy was chronicled in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” where Jackson was portrayed by artist Janelle Monae. She also received a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal and had a Utah elementary school named after her.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the building renaming in a statement, saying, “Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology. Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success.”
“We are honored that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother Mary W. Jackson. 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 Jackson’s daughter, Carolyn Lewis.
Bridenstine took to social media to share the news. “Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have helped construct NASA’s successful history to explore,” he said.
NASA’s Headquarters will be named the Mary W Jackson NASA Headquarters. Mary Jackson was @NASA's first African-American female engineer. She elevated America’s space program & led towards inclusion. Looking forward to holding a formal naming ceremony soon. https://t.co/R5tYNKPYNS pic.twitter.com/vKuIzMwpGN— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) June 24, 2020
Thank you for your contributions Ms. Jackson!
Photo Courtesy of NASA