“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in bringing American astronauts into space,” said NASA manager Jim Bridenstine. the agency’s announcement on Wednesday
“Maria has never accepted the status quo, it has helped break down barriers and open up opportunities for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.”
The news comes amid renewed calls for equality after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. His death, along with Breonna Taylor’s in Louisville, Kentucky, sparked nationwide protests demanding justice and an end to police violence.
Jackson began his career with NASA in the separate West Area Computing unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, NASA said.
Mathematician and aerospace engineer, Jackson has led programs aimed at promoting women in NASA.
He retired from NASA in 1985 and died in 2005 in at the age of 83 years.
President Donald Trump signed into law the Gold Medal of the Congress of Secret Figures in November 2019. Jackson, along with his esteemed African-American colleagues Christine Darden, Kathryn Jungleson Johnson Metasand and Dorothy Wow. Vaughan and Jackson, who died, were both given posthumous awards.
All the women wrote in the book “Hidden Figures”, which later became a famous film – starring Janelle Monáe as Jackson – that describes in detail the contributions of black women on an early space flight.
“It is no longer a secret that we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African-Americans and people from all backgrounds who have helped build NASA’s successful history of exploration,” Brindestin said.
NASA’s Mary W. Jackson headquarters will be located in Hidden Figures Way.
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