“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in bringing American astronauts into space,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told agency announcement for Wednesday.
“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break down barriers and open up opportunities for African-American women and women in the field of engineering and technology.”
The news comes as a renewed call for equality follows the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Negro who died at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. His death, along with the death of Breonne Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, sparked demonstrations across the country calling for justice and an end to police brutality.
Jackson began his career with NASA in a separate computing unit for the western area of the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, NASA said.
A mathematician and aeronautical engineer, Jackson led programs aimed at raising women at NASA.
President Donald Trump signed the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act in Congress in November 2019. Jackson, along with his esteemed African-American counterparts Christine Darden, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, won congressional gold medals. Vaughan and Jackson, who passed away, were both rewarded posthumously.
All women were featured in the book “Hidden Figures,” which later became a famous film – Janelle Monáe as Jackson – detailing the contribution of Black Women to early space flight.
“Without hiding anymore, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all kinds who have helped create NASA’s successful history in research,” Bridenstine said.
NASA headquarters building Mary W. Jackson will sit in the path of hidden figures.