Commonwealth Policy Center

An American hero who overcame segregation and long odds to contribute to the U.S. Space program that put the first man on the moon passed away. Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician depicted in the movie ‘Hidden Figures,’ calculated the trajectory for Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Johnson’s “pioneering legacy will never be forgotten.” Johnson overcame a racially segregated south that tried to keep her out of college and overcame workplace policies at a segregated NACA* that made her job tougher. But Johnson overcame and excelled at her work. She was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by Barack Obama, but she paved the wave for other black girls who had dreams to achieve great things and make this world a better place.

*The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was NASA’s predecessor.