NASA Renames Facility after a Hidden Figure in Black History


According to CNN,  The Independent Verification and Validation Facility has been renamed the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in honor of Katherine Johnson, a hidden figure in African American history.

Katherine Johnson was one of the main characters portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures which was nominated as the Best Motion Picture of the Year which was based on the book by that same title by Margot Lee Shetterly. (Download a Movie Analysis and Film Review Here or the Reading Guide for the Young Readers’ Edition Here)

Katherine Johnson is the mathematician behind calculating trajectories for the shuttle launches.  She has published over 26 scientific papers and is considered a pioneer in space science and computing.

According to an oral history archived by the National Visionary Leadership Project:

At first she [Johnson] worked in a pool of women performing math calculations. Katherine has referred to the women in the pool as virtual “computers who wore skirts”. Their main job was to read the data from the black boxes of planes and carry out other precise mathematical tasks. Then one day, Katherine (and a colleague) were temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team. Katherine’s knowledge of analytic geometry helped make quick allies of male bosses and colleagues to the extent that, “they forgot to return me to the pool”. While the racial and gender barriers were always there, Katherine says she ignored them. Katherine was assertive, asking to be included in editorial meetings (where no women had gone before). She simply told people she had done the work and that she belonged. (Oral History Archive: Katherine Johnson”National Visionary Leadership Project. 2005. Retrieved December 29, 2016.)


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