National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Wednesday, June 24, said that it will rename its Washington headquarters after Mary Jackson, its first black female engineer.
"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," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
Mary's story was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, Mary was a research mathematician who was later promoted to become the agency's first black female engineer. She died in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019.
"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 added.
Mary was recruited in 1951 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which was succeeded by NASA in 1958. She became known as one of the human computers at Langley and worked under Dorothy Vaughan, whose story was also told in Hidden Figures, in the segregated West Area Computing Unit at Langley, Virginia.
"We are honoured that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother, Mary W. Jackson," said, Carolyn Lewis, Mary's daughter.
"She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA but throughout this nation," she added.
NASA's initiative comes amid tensions in the United States over systemic racism and racial inequality in the country.