A hero finally had her place in history cemented — literally.
According to Refinery29, NASA honored Katherine Johnson, a “mathematician whose contributions to NASA’s early space missions were instrumental to its success” and the inspiration behind 2016’s Hidden Figures film, by placing her name on their research center. Called the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, Entertainment Weekly says the new building is part of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and was officially opened in a ceremony this past weekend.
In a pre-taped video, Refinery29 says Johnson shared how she felt about having a building named in her honor.
“You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” she said. “I was excited at something new, always liked something new, but give credit to everybody who helped. I didn’t do anything alone but try to go to the root of the question and succeeded there.”
Known as “the human computer” and a mathematician vital to launching John Glenn into space in 1962, Entertainment Weekly reports that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe offered that while Johnson is not alone in her achievements, she is certainly a pioneer.
“You have been a trailblazer,” he said at the ceremony. “When I think of Virginia and the history of what we’ve gone through … you’re at the top of that list.”
Johnson’s work and those of her counterparts Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were further immortalized in the film Hidden Figures, in which Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe portrayed the all-black, all-female mathematicians who shaped the trajectory of NASA’s space program.
When a group of female students visited the White House for a screening of the new movie Hidden Figures, Michelle Obama took a moment to acknowledge how “ridiculous” gender and racial discrimination are.
At the event, which centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, The Cut reports that the outgoing first lady “spoke of the adversity she faced while on the campaign trail. ‘We were supposed to be hidden. People didn’t even want to believe we were real. But here we are,’ she said.”
Speaking from her own experience while also referencing Hidden Figures — which “tells the true story of three black women whose brilliant work as NASA mathematicians went largely unrecognized, according to The Cut — Obama continued to impart her words of wisdom to the students in attendance.
“Skin color, gender, is the most ridiculous defining trait that we cling to. It doesn’t matter,” she said, according to The Cut. “What matters is you believe in your own potential. Because people will try to tear you down, I guarantee you that. There will never be a point when people will 100 percent be cheering you on.”
Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for cheering on these students — and students all around the country.
Women can do anything — from holding successful careers to solving complex problems to competing in sports or raising a family, women can do whatever they set their minds to. And with the impending release of a new film, audiences around the United States (and around the world) get to witness just how historically true this is.
Meet the women who helped launch the first astronauts into space: Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, whose stories will be portrayed on the silver screen by Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer respectively in the upcoming film Hidden Figures.
Glamour reports that the film finally sheds light on the unsung heroes and brilliant mathematicians who not only “helped launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit back in 1962,” but also “battled the pervasive sexism and racism of the era at the same time.”
Based on the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which will go on sale on Sept. 6, the film will hit theaters in January 2017, according to IMDb.
If you can’t wait to get your hands on the book or watch the film, you can preorder the title here and watch the trailer here.
When eight top female singers unite to record one song, you know it’s for a good reason — and First Lady Michelle Obama was able to convene the powerhouses for a very special project ahead of her SXSW appearance.
According to TIME, the First Lady released a song titled, “This Is For My Girls,” on Wednesday, March 16 just before her SXSW Music Keynote Conversation. The song, penned by legendary songwriter Diane Warren, features not only singers like Kelly Clarkson and Lea Michele, but also Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Janelle Monaé, Jada Grace, Kelly Rowland and Chloe x Halle.
Done in a collaboration with AOL’s Makers series, TIME says that the track aims to “promote her Let Girls Learn initiative, which helps provide access to education to the estimated 62 million girls around the world without schooling.”
All proceeds from the track will be donated to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, which aids in giving “adolescent girls get the secondary education they deserve.”
To listen to “This Is For My Girls” or to download the track, check out Itunes here.