The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA is renaming its headquarters after Mary W.
Jackson, the agency’s first African American female engineer who helped inspire the story behind the book and film “Hidden Figures.”
The announcement comes amid renewed calls for equality after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. His death, along with that of Breonna Taylor, sparked nationwide protests calling for justice and an end to police brutality.
On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement 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.”
According to NASA, Jackson began her career with NASA at the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Jackson is a mathematician and an aerospace engineer. She led programs aimed at uplifting women within NASA.
Jackson retired from NASA in 1985 and passed away in 2005, at the age of 83.
President Donald Trump signed into law the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act in November of 2019. Jackson, together with her esteemed African American colleagues Christine Darden, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan were awarded Congressional Gold Medals. Jackson and Vaughan, who passed away, were both awarded posthumously.
All of the women were written about in the book “Hidden Figures,” which later became an acclaimed movie, starring Janelle Monáe as Jackson. The movie detailed the contributions of Black women to an early spaceflight.
“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,” Bridenstine said.