NASA is renaming its headquarters in Washington, D.C. after Mary W. Jackson, the first black woman engineer at NASA. Jackson was famously portrayed by Janelle Monáe in the 2016 historical drama, Hidden Figures, detailing the work of Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan on Project Mercury during the Space Race.
“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “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.”
“Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building,” he continued. “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.”
A mathematician and aerospace engineer, Jackson began her career at NASA in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center. She went on to champion the hiring and promotion of women at NASA. Just last year, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
“NASA facilities across the country are named after people who dedicated their lives to push the frontiers of the aerospace industry. The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation,” Bridenstine added. “Over the years NASA has worked to honor the work of these Hidden Figures in various ways, including naming facilities, renaming streets and celebrating their legacy.”
“We know there are many other people of color and diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our success, which is why we’re continuing the conversations started about a year ago with the agency’s Unity Campaign. NASA is dedicated to advancing diversity, and we will continue to take steps to do so,” he concluded.
For more on the renaming of NASA’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, and additional details about Mary Jackson, visit NASA.gov.