NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson shattered racial and gender barriers in the realm of STEM and the late legendary trailblazer recently received another special honor for her contributions. According to USA Today, a Virginia-based middle school has been renamed to pay homage to Johnson.
For nearly six decades the school—which is located in the city of Fairfax—bared the name of Sidney Lanier. Lanier was a musician and author who had ties to the confederacy which prompted individuals within the local community to reexamine the school’s name; ultimately leading to the decision to change it. After hundreds of suggestions for the educational facility’s new namesake were submitted, in November 2020 the school district landed on Katherine Johnson Middle School. Johnson played an integral role in sending astronauts to the moon and helping them return to earth. Her contributions, and those of other Black women mathematicians, were pivotal in furthering spatial research.
Jon Buttram, who serves on the city’s school board, says the renaming will ensure that Johnson’s legacy and impact will reverberate for generations to come. He hopes the school’s new name will inspire students to follow their dreams. “Her contributions continued to serve the nation and helped ensure that the ‘Eagle had landed and landed safely,'” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “So, I think it appropriate that the name Katherine Johnson for our middle school will inspire new generations of ‘Eagles’ for our community, and I look forward to watching them fly.” The official renaming ceremony took place this month.
From Texas to California, there are several schools across the country that are named in Johnson’s honor. News about the school’s renaming comes nearly four years after NASA named its computational research facility after Johnson.