Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was one of the first African-American women to work at NASA. She recently passed away at the age of 101.

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Katherine Johnson, also known as Katherine Goble, passed away on February 24th, 2020 due to natural causes. She was 101, and one of the first African-American women to work at NASA. She was a mathematician and a key component in helping to launch the first spacecraft and many following missions.

She worked on many missions throughout her career, and helped to kick-start the space program at NASA. She worked alongside many other men to create the correct launch and landing points for different missions, and wrote many scientific research reports. Although she had a very positive impact on the program, she never got the recognition she deserved until far after she retired.

“I don’t have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody, but no better,”said Johnson. “NASA was a very professional organization; they didn’t have time to be concerned about what color I was.”

When Johnson finally got recognition for the role she played in the Apollo mission and in general at NASA, she was very humble saying, “I was just doing my job.”

She worked at NASA during the civil rights movement, facing discrimination daily and having to use separate facilities. She also was denied a lot of the credit that was rightfully hers, considering that she was instrumental in the return of the Apollo aircraft. 

The book “Hidden Figures” was written by author Margot Lee Shetterly. In the book, she told the story of three African-American who were crucial in the success of spacecraft missions.

My life’s honor to tell the story of Katherine Johnson’s contributions to NASA, science, our country, and Hampton Roads, VA. Her brilliance helped us to see and celebrate other hidden figures in history. You changed the narrative… Godspeed, Katherine Johnson”

— Margot Lee Shetterly

“My life’s honor to tell the story of Katherine Johnson’s contributions to NASA, science, our country, and Hampton Roads, VA. Her brilliance helped us to see and celebrate other hidden figures in history. You changed the narrative… Godspeed, Katherine,” Shetterly said.

The story was eventually made into a movie where they received the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The movie was also nominated for three Oscars, and although the movie didn’t win, the crowd gave Johnson a standing ovation.

Johnson was awarded with many different honors and awards. In 2015, President Obama awarded her the presidential medal of freedom declaring, “Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said following the news, “Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space.”