NASA has renamed the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., after Mary W. Jackson, its first African American female engineer.
Announcing this, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.
Mary Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space.
She started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The work of the West Area Computing Unit caught widespread national attention in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The book was made into a popular movie in which Jackson’s character was played by award-winning actress Janelle Monáe.
“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,” the NASA chief said.
“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible,” he added.
The portion of E Street SW in front of NASA Headquarters was renamed Hidden Figures Way last year.
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