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NASA names headquarters for trailblazing 'Hidden Figure' Mary W. Jackson

Jackson was the first African-American female engineer in NASA history.

Mary Jackson worked at NASA for 34 years.

NASA

The NASA headquarters building in Washington, D.C., has a new name, and it's perfect. NASA's home will now be known as the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters in honor of the agency's first African American female engineer.

Jackson, who died in 2005, worked at NASA for several decades after first joining the agency's predecessor -- the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics—in 1951. She was known as one the "human computers" in her role as a research mathematician. 

"She elevated America's space program and led towards inclusion," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted on Wednesday, saying he was looking forward to holding a formal naming ceremony soon.

The story of Black women in NASA came to wider attention with the release of the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, an adaptation of a nonfiction book of the same name. Janelle Monáe portrayed Jackson in the film.

NASA has made an effort in recent years to honor these groundbreaking women. The street in front of the headquarters building is Hidden Figures Way, a name unveiled in 2019.

The Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington, DC.

NASA

The agency renamed its Independent Verification and Validation Facility in West Virginia to the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in early 2019. Johnson, who died earlier this year, was also a pioneering research mathematician at NASA. 

The naming of NASA headquarters is another step toward keeping the Hidden Figures out in the light. 

"We are honored that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother Mary W. Jackson," said Jackson's daughter Carolyn Lewis in a NASA release. "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." 

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