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NASA names DC headquarters after agency’s first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson

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NASA will rename its Washington, D.C., headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the agency’s first Black woman engineer, Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday.

Jackson worked for seven years in the agency’s segregated West Area Computing Unit in 1951 before becoming an engineer in 1958. She had achieved the senior-most engineering title within NASA by 1979, and voluntarily took a demotion to work as an Equal Opportunity Specialist, seeking out accomplished women and minorities for recruitment within NASA.

Jackson retired in 1985 after 34 years at NASA; she died in 2005 at the age of 83. She was played by Janelle Monae in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures” and posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. 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,” Bridenstine said in a statement.

“Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. 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 helped construct NASA’s successful history to explore,” he added.

The portion of E Street SW where NASA’s D.C. headquarters sit was renamed “Hidden Figures Way” following a bipartisan bill by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“We are honored that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother Mary W. Jackson,” Jackson’s daughter Carolyn Lewis said in a statement. “She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation.”

Tags Bill Nelson Ed Markey Janelle Monae Jim Bridenstine John Thune Mary W. Jackson NASA Ted Cruz
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