Mary Jackson: NASA to name its headquarters after its first black engineer

Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of segregation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations.
Downloaded from: , Credits: NASA

 NASA has decided to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black engineer, Mary Jackson.

 NASA Administrator Jim Brydenstein says Marie Jackson helped break down barriers to African Americans and women in engineering and technology.

 Jackson started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

 A film about her life was also made in 2016 called 'Hidden Figures'.  Mary Jackson, born in Hampton, Virginia, died in 2005.

 Last year, NASA named the road in front of its headquarters 'Hidden Figures Way'.

 Jim Brydenstein said in a statement: "No more secrecy, we will continue to appreciate the role of women, African Americans and people of other (ethnic) backgrounds who made NASA's research a success.

 "Mary W. Jackson was part of a very important group of women who helped NASA send American astronauts into space."

 "Mary never compromised, she helped break down barriers and create new opportunities for African Americans and women in engineering and technology."

 The move comes at a time when people across the United States are undergoing a process of self-accountability for the injustices perpetrated against African Americans.

 In recent days, there have been worldwide protests against the killing of George Floyd, a black American in police custody, and calls for an end to racism within the system.

 NASA began recruiting a few African Americans who graduated from college in the 1940s as 'human computers', but in the office they experienced racial and gender discrimination.

 Marie Jackson joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1951, which was merged with NASA in 1958.

 She died in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019.

 Her daughter, Caroline Lewis, says it is an honor for her family that NASA continues to acknowledge Mary Jackson's legacy.

 "She was a scientist, philanthropist, wife, mother and inventor who showed thousands of other people the way to success not only at NASA but across the country," he said.

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