*At 1 p.m. EST Friday (Feb. 26), the NASA Headquarters building in Washington will officially be named after “Hidden Figure” Mary W. Jackson, the agency’s first African American female engineer.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk will lead the ceremony set to air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, and will livestream on the agency’s Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as the NASA app.
Members of Jackson’s family and other guests will join Jurczyk for the ceremony, including:
• Clayton Turner, NASA Langley center director
• Christine Darden, retired NASA engineer and “Hidden Figure,” as profiled in Shetterly’s book
• Artist Tenbeete Solomon, also known as Trap Bob
• Wanda Jackson, granddaughter of Mary W. Jackson
In addition to unveiling a building sign with Jackson’s name, the event will feature video tributes with reflections on Jackson’s career and legacy from a variety of individuals, including William R. Harvey, the president of Hampton University, Jackson’s alma mater, as well as family and friends, current and former NASA employees and astronauts, celebrities, elected officials and others. The event also will feature a video of poet Nikki Giovanni reading an excerpt from her poem “Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea,” which is about space and civil rights.
With the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on-site attendance will be limited to participants and invited guests, with no accreditation for in-person media. Members of the media are encouraged to attend the event remotely and take advantage of the resources available virtually.
Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of segregation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations.
Jackson began her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The mathematician and aerospace engineer went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In 2019, she posthumously received the Congressional Gold Medal.
The work of Jackson and others in the West Area Computing Unit caught widespread national attention in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The book was made into a popular movie that same year, with award-winning actress/singer Janelle Monáe portraying Jackson.
Watch a video about the naming ceremony below: