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NASA Renames Washington Headquarters After ‘Hidden Figure’ Engineer

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NASA recently renamed their Washington DC headquarters after one of their “Hidden Figures,” who helped accomplish the first space exploration back in the early 60s.

What We Know:

  • Acting Administrator for NASA Steve Jurczyk lead a ceremony at the end of February, officially renaming the Washington DC NASA Headquarters after one of the first African American women to contribute to the NASA program. Her name is Mary W. Jackson.
  • Jackson was one of the first Black women engineers working with NASA. Not only was she one of the leading contributors to the first successful space landing, but she was also an advocate for equality on more than just one issue. She pursued her passion with integrity and dedication as well as determination, all while doing it in a field that was and is currently overcrowded with men.
  • According to an interview with Forbes Magazine, Jurczyk says that he hopes the name change will “..inspire people to continue to break barriers…we understand this amazing work is only possible when we embrace unity, equity, diversity, and inclusion…” The ceremony consisted of multiple speakers expressing their gratitude for Jackson’s accomplishments. From educators, former and current NASA directors to current NASA astronauts.

  • Jackson is a graduate of Hampton Institute with degrees in Mathematics and Physical Sciences. She initially joined NASA as their first Black woman mathematician and eventually became their first engineer. There, she conducted various amounts of lasting legacy work, including but not limited to her work on NASA’s pressure wind tunnel and improvements on their aircraft. She later joined NASA’s equal opportunity program, where she fought for hiring and promotions of women engineers, mathematicians, and scientists until she passed in 2005.

Jackson’s and her note-worthy colleagues’ stories can be seen in the 2016 Oscar award-winning and appropriately named film, Hidden Figures.

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