NASA immortalizes first Black engineer, renames headquarters

NASA immortalizes first Black engineer, renames headquarters
Mary Jackson

NASA has disclosed plan to name its headquarters after Mary Jackson, the agency’s first black female engineer and one of the women spotlighted in the 2016 book and movie “Hidden Figures.”

While disclosing the decision in a statement released on Wednesday June 24, 2020, NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, stated that Mary was one of its many talented professionals. 

“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," Bridenstine said. 

Bridenstine further noted that the headquarters building, which is situated on Hidden Figures Way in Washington, D.C., previously had no name attached to it.

Jackson joined NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1951 and began her career as one of the administration’s human computers in the Space Race.

Jackson and other black women at NACA were segregated in the West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. 

In 1958, the same year NACA changed its name to NASA, Jackson became the agency’s first black female engineer. She worked at the Langley center until her retirement in 1985.

Jackson died in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019, alongside her “Hidden Figures” colleagues Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Christine Darden.