Katherine Johnson, a Black NASA mathematician whose work assisted in the launch of astronauts into space, was featured in the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures” in 2016.
A Virginia middle school that was formerly named for a confederate soldier will now be renamed in her honor, more than a year after her death at the age of 101 in February 2020.
For the previous six decades, the Fairfax school had been named after Sidney Lanier, an American poet and Confederate army private, but after an outcry from local people, the city school board voted to change the name in September of last year.
In a statement, city school board member Jon Buttram said, “Her contributions continued to serve the nation and helped assure that the ‘Eagle had landed…and landed safely.” “As a result, I believe it is fitting that the name Katherine Johnson for our middle school inspire new generations of ‘Eagles’ for our community, and I am excited to see them soar.” On Friday, June 11, a ceremony to alter the name will be held, with members of the space pioneer’s family in attendance. Meanwhile, before the commencement of the 2021-2022 school year, the name Katherine Johnson Middle School will take effect in July 2021.
Maya Angelou, Fairfax Woods, and Legacy Independence and City were among the more than 300 names offered for the modification.
Johnson’s family was ecstatic to receive the award. Katherine’s niece, Valerie Johnson, a math resource specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools, told ABC Washington that her aunt “had extremely poor beginnings.” She wasn’t conceited, and she never boasted about her accomplishments.” “Even as a child, I didn’t fully realize the enormity of her work,” she continued, “but as I grew older, I heard about her enormous and vital work at NASA and the reality that she truly has superpowers: passion, tenacity, and courage.”
The news comes on the heels of another notable award received earlier this year. Johnson was one of many women, including former first lady Michelle Obama and soccer legend Mia Hamm, to be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame’s 2021 class in March.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame was founded in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1969 as a method to preserve history by highlighting many women who have made significant contributions to the country. The event will take held on October 2nd.