The City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would allow naming the 300 block of E Street, Southwest, where NASA’s Washington offices are located, in honor of three female African-American mathematicians whose lives were recounted in the recent Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures.
The street would be renamed “Hidden Figures Way” “to honor the historic women scientists and mathematicians who contributed to NASA’s mission despite adversity.”
Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary W. Jackson were black women who worked as mathematicians at NASA throughout the Space Race. Each of them worked for decades at NASA. The trio, labeled as “human computers”, made significant contributions in the scientific work that sent the first American into space.
The film depicts their life and work, and the struggles and discrimination they faced during their illustrious careers.
Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who was the inspiration for the film, had a role in the return of Apollo astronauts back to Earth. Her calculations significantly contributed towards the safe return of Apollo astronauts to Earth.
In Johnson’s honor, the West Virginia State University will also be hosting a dedication ceremony on August 25, 2018, a day before her 100th birthday.
The film is based on author Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 non-fiction book titled Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race.
Shetterly loved the final movie despite initial nervousness on how the book would translate into a film. “When I finally saw [Hidden Figures], I saw there is no way to transform a book into a movie, or at least into…a good movie without taking some dramatic license,” said Shetterly. “What makes a successful movie is different than what makes a successful book.”