Women Known as ‘Hidden Figures’ to Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Hidden Figures Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson (Courtesy NASA)

Four African American women mathematicians, engineers and researchers known as “Hidden Figures” are being honored with Congressional Gold Medals.

The women worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia in the 1950s.

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Dr. Christine Darden will receive the nation’s highest civilian award for their contributions to the success of the space program as part of the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act.

[Johnson and Jackson are pictured above]

President Trump signed the act into law on Friday, Nov. 8, after it was introduced by Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

“We are thrilled that these four trailblazers are being recognized with this honor,” the senators said in a joint statement on Kaine’s website. “Their engineering and calculations were essential to our nation’s success in the Space Race, but for too long, they didn’t receive the acknowledgment they deserve.”

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Vaughan and Jackson have passed away and are being honored posthumously. A fifth gold medal will recognize all women who contributed to NASA during the Space Race.

Johnson, Jackson, and Vaughan were featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly.

The book was turned into a 2016 film starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons.

Directed by Theodore Melfi, the film won a string of awards and earned $236 million worldwide.