The contributions of mathematicians Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan will forever be embedded in the fabric of American history. The three women were honored by NASA for pushing space exploration forward. According to NPR, the agency renamed the street in front of its headquarters to celebrate the legacies of the women.
The proposal for “Hidden Figures Way” was introduced by a group of senators last year. On Wednesday, the loved ones of the women, author Margot Lee Shetterly—who wrote the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race—politicians, and supporters watched as the plan came to fruition during a street unveiling ceremony.
“Naming this street Hidden Figures Way serves to remind us, and everyone who comes here, of the standard that was set by these women, with their commitment to science and their embodiment of the values of equality, justice and humanity,” said Shetterly during the ceremony. “But, let it also remind us of the Hidden Figures way, which is to open our eyes to [contributions] of the people around us so that their names, too, are the ones that we remember at the end of the story.” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says that the recognition of their accomplishments is far overdue. “Here we are, 50 years after the landing of the Apollo 11 moon lander, celebrating those figures who were, at the time, not celebrated.”
The three pioneers who broke barriers for African Americans in the space industry have received several honors and accolades. In 2017, NASA named a new space facility after Katherine Johnson. Lego also released a toy set inspired by the women to not only honor their accomplishments but to expose young children of color to career paths in the realm of STEM.