NASA has renamed its headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, who is the agency’s first African American female engineer who helped inspire the story behind the book and film “Hidden Figures.”
Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of separation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations.
NASA announced this news on Wednesday that the organization’s Washington DC headquarters will be renamed to honor “Hidden Figures” scientist Mary Jackson.
While talking to the press Bridenstine said “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. 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 also said that “NASA facilities across the country are named after people who dedicated their lives to push the frontiers of the aerospace industry. The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation. Over the years NASA has worked to honor the work of these Hidden Figures in various ways, including naming facilities, renaming streets, and celebrating their legacy,”.
“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.”
He also added: “We know there are many other people of color and diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our success, which is why we’re continuing the conversations started about a year ago with the agency’s Unity Campaign. NASA is dedicated to advancing diversity, and we will continue to take steps to do so.”
She graduated from Hampton Institute in 1942 with a dual degree in math and physical sciences. She started her NASA career in the 1950s in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. She was a great mathematician and engineer.
Jackson had led programs that were aimed at uplifting women within NASA. She retired from NASA in 1985 and passed away in 2005, at the age of 83.
Jackson’s work has also been the subject of the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures”, which was then made into a feature film that same year.
The renaming of NASA’s headquarters comes after various protests erupted throughout the U.S over police brutality on George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May.
In 2019, President Trump signed the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act and posthumously awarded the honor to Jackson’s endeavors, along with her Hidden Figures colleagues. She passed away in 2005.