As reported by NASA itself, its headquarters will be renamed after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at the agency and the person that helped inspire the story behind “Hidden Figures”.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an announcement that Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped the agency succeed in getting American astronauts into space, and she was a person that never accepted the status quo. Instead, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.
NASA said that Jackson began her career with the agency at the segregated West Area Computing Unit in the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and she led programs aimed at uplifting women within NASA.
She was a mathematician and an aerospace engineer that retired from the agency in 1985. She passed in 2005 at the age of 83.
The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed into law in November 2019, by which Jackson, alongside African American colleagues Christine Darden, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan were awarded Congressional Gold Medals.
The four women have been featured in the book “Hidden Figures”, which later became an acclaimed film that details the contributions of Black women to an early spaceflight.