"Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Acclaim - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Jan 28th, 2017, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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"Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Acclaim

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...c9c_story.html


Fame has finally found Katherine Johnson — and it only took a half-century, six manned moon landings, a best-selling book and an Oscar-nominated movie.

For more than 30 years, Johnson worked as a NASA mathematician at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where she played an unseen but pivotal role in the country’s space missions. That she was an African American woman in an almost all-male and white workforce made her career even more remarkable.







Now, three decades after retiring from the agency, Johnson is portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures,” a film based on a book of the same name. The movie tells how a group of black women — world-class mathematicians all — helped provide NASA with data crucial to the success of the agency’s early spaceflights. “Hidden Figures” was nominated Tuesday for an Academy Award for best picture.

Suddenly Johnson, who will turn 99 in August, finds herself inundated with interview requests, award banquet invitations and people who just want to stop by and shake her hand.

“I’m glad that I’m young enough still to be living and that they are, so they can look and see, ‘That’s who that is,’ ” she said. “And they are as excited as I am.”

For many people, especially African Americans, her tale of overcoming racism and sexism is inspirational.

ut Johnson is still struggling to figure out what all the fuss is about. “There’s nothing to it — I was just doing my job,” she said during an interview in her living room in Hampton Roads, Va. “They needed information and I had it, and it didn’t matter that I found it. At the time, it was just a question and an answer.”

Henson spent hours with Johnson before the filming got underway, according to her publicist, Pamela Sharp, who said the actress described the experience as “meeting a true hero.”

Johnson speaks these days with a slight rasp in her voice but carries the same confidence that prompted NASA engineers to turn to her for help in planning the Mercury and Apollo space missions by, among other things, calculating the distance between Earth and the moon.

Her daughters, Joylette Goble Hylick and Katherine Goble Moore, said she’s seen “Hidden Figures” three times. And while Johnson doesn’t remember seeing every single shot or scene in the film, her memories of her work are sharp.

Clad in a pink turtleneck and a snow white shawl, with her silver hair styled gently atop her head, Johnson recalled how John Glenn, the astronaut and longtime senator who died last month, insisted on her calculations for Friendship 7, the first mission to orbit Earth.

“Get that girl,” she remembered Glenn saying.

How, she was asked, did she know Glenn was referring to her?

Johnson shrugged and said, “He knew I had done [the calculations] before for him, and they trusted my work,” she said. “He asked me to do it, and I did it.”

At the end of the day, “color didn’t matter” at NASA, she said. You were only as good as your last answer.

“They never asked me to go back over [my calculations] because when I did it, I had done my best, and it was right,” she said.

[The nearly forgotten story of the black women who helped land a man on the moon]

Johnson said she was one of the first women to attend an editorial meeting at the agency. Usually only the men wrote papers, and they would all gather in a room to discuss the findings.

She said she “wanted to know what they talk about.” So she asked. And when someone noted that women didn’t attend those meetings, she followed up with: “Is there a law that says I can’t go?”

And her boss said, “ ‘Let her go,’ ” Johnson said. “No big thing. I hadn’t given it any thought. And the first time I went into one, a fellow asked a question and he said: ‘Katherine is here, ask her. She did it.’ ”


High school at 10


Johnson was born in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., when Woodrow Wilson occupied the White House and rotary dial telephones were still brand-new. Some of Johnson’s earliest memories involved counting games — counting stair steps, *dishes, anything. She was so eager to learn to read that she followed her older brother, Horace Coleman, to elementary school before she was old enough to attend.

She started second grade at the age of 4. When she was 10, her family moved to Institute, W.Va. — 120 miles away — so she could attend high school because there wasn’t one for black children in White Sulphur Springs. Johnson graduated from what is now West Virginia State University at 18.

After college, she began to work as a teacher. She married James Goble two years later. (He died in 1956; she married her current husband, James Johnson, three years after that.)

In the early 1950s, she learned that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the precursor to NASA, was looking for mathematicians to work at Langley Research Center. By 1953, Johnson was working there as “a computer” — the title that the agency gave to those who worked on calculations.

By the time she retired in 1986, Johnson had worked on Glenn’s flight, the moon landings and the 1970 rescue of Apollo 13. She also helped write one of the first textbooks on space.

[------------------ snipped ---------------------------]
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

Just remembered I'd made this thread. Which got no responses.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 04:44 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

a"cc"laim

too bad she is the only living scientist out of the three. The other two couldn't live long enough to see this happen
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

Mary Jackson

https://www.nasa.gov/content/mary-jackson-biography




For Mary Winston Jackson, a love of science and a commitment to improving the lives of the people around her were one and the same. In the 1970s, she helped the youngsters in the science club at Hampton’s King Street Community center build their own wind tunnel and use it to conduct experiments. “We have to do something like this to get them interested in science," she said in an article for the local newspaper. "Sometimes they are not aware of the number of black scientists, and don't even know of the career opportunities until it is too late."

Mary’s own path to an engineering career at the NASA Langley Research Center was far from direct. A native of Hampton, Virginia, she graduated from Hampton Institute in 1942 with a dual degree in Math and Physical Sciences, and accepted a job as a math teacher at a black school in Calvert County, Maryland. Hampton had become one of the nerve centers of the World War II home front effort, and after a year of teaching, Mary returned home, finding a position as the receptionist at the King Street USO Club, which served the city’s black population. It would take three more career changes—a post as a bookkeeper in Hampton Institute’s Health Department, a stint at home following the birth of her son, Levi, and a job as an Army secretary at Fort Monroe—before Mary landed at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory’s segregated West Area Computing section in 1951, reporting to the group’s supervisor Dorothy Vaughan.

After two years in the computing pool, Mary Jackson received an offer to work for engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki in the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel capable of blasting models with winds approaching twice the speed of sound. Czarnecki offered Mary hands-on experience conducting experiments in the facility, and eventually suggested that she enter a training program that would allow her to earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer. Trainees had to take graduate level math and physics in after-work courses managed by the University of Virginia. Because the classes were held at then-segregated Hampton High School, however, Mary needed special permission from the City of Hampton to join her white peers in the classroom. Never one to flinch in the face of a challenge, Mary completed the courses, earned the promotion, and in 1958 became NASA’s first black female engineer. That same year, she co-authored her first report, Effects of Nose Angle and Mach Number on Transition on Cones at Supersonic Speeds.

Mary Jackson began her engineering career in an era in which female engineers of any background were a rarity; in the 1950s, she very well may have been the only black female aeronautical engineer in the field. For nearly two decades she enjoyed a productive engineering career, authoring or co-authoring a dozen or so research reports, most focused on the behavior of the boundary layer of air around airplanes. As the years progressed, the promotions slowed, and she became frustrated at her inability to break into management-level grades. In 1979, seeing that the glass ceiling was the rule rather than the exception for the center’s female professionals, she made a final, dramatic career change, leaving engineering and taking a demotion to fill the open position of Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager. There, she worked hard to impact the hiring and promotion of the next generation of all of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers and scientists.

Mary retired from Langley in 1985. Among her many honors were an Apollo Group Achievement Award, and being named Langley’s Volunteer of the Year in 1976. She served as the chair of one of the center’s annual United Way campaigns, was a Girl Scout troop leader for more than three decades, and a member of the National Technical Association (the oldest African American technical organization in the United States). She and her husband Levi had an open-door policy for young Langley recruits trying to gain their footing in a new town and a new career. A 1976 Langley Researcher profile might have done the best job capturing Mary Jackson’s spirit and character, calling her a “gentlelady, wife and mother, humanitarian and scientist.” For Mary Jackson, science and service went hand in hand.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

Dorothy Vaughan

https://www.nasa.gov/content/dorothy-vaughan-biography




In an era when NASA is led by an African American man (Administrator Charles Bolden) and a woman (Deputy Administrator Dava Newman), and when recent NASA Center Directors come from a variety of backgrounds, it's easy to overlook the people who paved the way for the agency's current robust and diverse workforce and leadership. Those who speak of NASA's pioneers rarely mention the name Dorothy Vaughan, but as the head of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) segregated West Area Computing Unit from 1949 until 1958, Vaughan was both a respected mathematician and NASA's first African-American manager.

Dorothy Vaughan came to the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1943, during the height of World War II, leaving her position as the math teacher at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, VA to take what she believed would be a temporary war job. Two years after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 into law, prohibiting racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the country's defense industry, the Laboratory began hiring black women to meet the skyrocketing demand for processing aeronautical research data. Urgency and twenty-four hour shifts prevailed-- as did Jim Crow laws which required newly-hired "colored" mathematicians to work separately from their white female counterparts. Dorothy Vaughan was assigned to the segregated "West Area Computing" unit, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities. Over time, both individually and as a group, the West Computers distinguished themselves with contributions to virtually every area of research at Langley.

The group's original section heads (first Margery Hannah, then Blanche Sponsler) were white. In 1949, Dorothy Vaughan was promoted to lead the group, making her the NACA's first black supervisor, and one of the NACA's few female supervisors. The Section Head title gave Dorothy rare Laboratory-wide visibility, and she collaborated with other well-known (white) computers like Vera Huckel and Sara Bullock on projects such as compiling a handbook for algebraic methods for calculating machines. Vaughan was a steadfast advocate for the women of West Computing, and even intervened on behalf of white computers in other groups who deserved promotions or pay raises. Engineers valued her recommendations as to the best "girls" for a particular project, and for challenging assignments they often requested that she personally handle the work.

Dorothy Vaughan helmed West Computing for nearly a decade. In 1958, when the NACA made the transition to NASA, segregated facilities, including the West Computing office, were abolished. Dorothy Vaughan and many of the former West Computers joined the new Analysis and Computation Division (ACD), a racially and gender-integrated group on the frontier of electronic computing. Dorothy Vaughan became an expert FORTRAN programmer, and she also contributed to the Scout Launch Vehicle Program.

Dorothy Vaughan retired from NASA in 1971. She sought, but never received, another management position at Langley. Her legacy lives on in the successful careers of notable West Computing alumni, including Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Eunice Smith and Kathryn Peddrew, and the achievements of second-generation mathematicians and engineers such as Dr. Christine Darden.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 06:12 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

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a"cc"laim

too bad she is the only living scientist out of the three. The other two couldn't live long enough to see this happen
I thought the same thing

At first I was like.. why would she receive a claim?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 06:15 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

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I thought the same thing

At first I was like.. why would she receive a claim?
and the typo is still there (sorry pov )
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 27th, 2017, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

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I thought the same thing

At first I was like.. why would she receive a claim?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TIEFSEE View Post
and the typo is still there (sorry pov )
Apologies. I paid no attention at all since I copy-pasted it. But when I capitalized the 'A' I must have also highlighted the initial 'c'.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 09:08 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Aclaim

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a"cc"laim

too bad she is the only living scientist out of the three. The other two couldn't live long enough to see this happen
So many hidden stories.

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 19th, 2017, 05:35 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Acclaim

Fantastic film Hidden Figures. Everyone should see it if they haven't done so.

One thing the film showed with Dorothy Vaughan in addition to pov's write up is that when NASA installed the IBM computers - it looked like a lot of them would be out of a job. She went to a library and went into a "whites only" part of the library to get a book on FORTRAN. She was questioned as to why she was in that area but got the book out - "I pay my taxes so I paid for it like everyone else". She taught herself from the book how to program in FORTRAN and then taught it to the other Afro American women there. There was no career path or training provided. That was a "whites only" thing. She had to be resourceful and do it all herself.

Sometime later she was in the washroom with the then section head - they had got rid of the separate "Whites only" facilities in NASA by then. Had to chuckle when the section head said "You think I'm racist but I'm not". Dorothy Vaughan replied "I know" but then added "that you think you're not racist". I had to laugh at that.




Then there was all those reports and calculations Katherine Johnson did on analytical geometry and orbit and re-entry calculations in which it wasn't allowed for a woman to have her name as the author so her supervisor took the credit with his name as the author. She was so good that they changed that. The names stated on the report as the authors were then written as her supervisor's name first and then hers.

But she initially had to battle through having to do check calculations where half of what she was given had been covered and her supervisor telling her "she didn't have security clearance" and it was all been checked anyway and was correct and she should just agree it. That was until she startled them all and the section head with her analysis and resourcefulness holding up to the light to read what had been covered up



I remember living through that age in England and following the space race when I was young and at school. And had no idea back then of what it really meant to be actually living as an Afro American woman in that part of the USA back then.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 23rd, 2017, 05:12 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Acclaim

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Fantastic film Hidden Figures. Everyone should see it if they haven't done so.

One thing the film showed with Dorothy Vaughan in addition to pov's write up is that when NASA installed the IBM computers - it looked like a lot of them would be out of a job. She went to a library and went into a "whites only" part of the library to get a book on FORTRAN. She was questioned as to why she was in that area but got the book out - "I pay my taxes so I paid for it like everyone else". She taught herself from the book how to program in FORTRAN and then taught it to the other Afro American women there. There was no career path or training provided. That was a "whites only" thing. She had to be resourceful and do it all herself.

Sometime later she was in the washroom with the then section head - they had got rid of the separate "Whites only" facilities in NASA by then. Had to chuckle when the section head said "You think I'm racist but I'm not". Dorothy Vaughan replied "I know" but then added "that you think you're not racist". I had to laugh at that.




Then there was all those reports and calculations Katherine Johnson did on analytical geometry and orbit and re-entry calculations in which it wasn't allowed for a woman to have her name as the author so her supervisor took the credit with his name as the author. She was so good that they changed that. The names stated on the report as the authors were then written as her supervisor's name first and then hers.

But she initially had to battle through having to do check calculations where half of what she was given had been covered and her supervisor telling her "she didn't have security clearance" and it was all been checked anyway and was correct and she should just agree it. That was until she startled them all and the section head with her analysis and resourcefulness holding up to the light to read what had been covered up



I remember living through that age in England and following the space race when I was young and at school. And had no idea back then of what it really meant to be actually living as an Afro American woman in that part of the USA back then.
I had a girl movie day at my house yesterday. First we fixed lunch/dinner and ate way more than we should have, then watched "Moonlight" which was intense but good. We then watched "Hidden Figures" which was very good. I've already seen "Fences" but will probably have to watch it again at next movie/potluck get together because my friends haven't seen that one yet. For some reason I'm not interested in watching "LaLa". Is it as good as its been built up to be?

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

Cory Booker

Last edited by mykarma; Mar 27th, 2017 at 03:32 PM.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Apr 8th, 2017, 06:30 PM
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Re: "Hidden Figure" no more: Katherine Johnson, NASA Pioneer, Receives Acclaim

I have heard great things about this movie,will finally get to watch it when it debuts on demand tuesday.
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