K Is For Katherine Johnson

Miriam E. A.Thompson > Miriam’s Blog > Uncategorized > K Is For Katherine Johnson

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Not until I watched Hidden Figures did I know about Katherine Johnson. Check out Taraji Henson’s rendering of her character. My favorite part was when she had a meltdown regarding having to race across the campus to use the bathroom.

But I digress.

Katherine Johnson was a scientific genius and an inspiration to women and girls who love science. Miss Johnson could compress numbers, formulas at a speed which was incomprehensible.

Black and white portrait of Hidden Figure Katherine Johnson wearing glasses with a pleasant smile courtesy of NASA.
Source: NASA

From childhood, Katherine had exceptional intelligence. Thirteen-year-old Katherine enrolled in high school and enrolled in college at eighteen. During her time in college, she earned a PhD in mathematics. Katherine’s gifted abilities set the course for a career which would propel her to be a part of one of the major events in American history.

Sputnik happened in 1957. The Space race between America and Russia had begun. Katherine calculated the numbers for engineering projects. Also, as part of the team, she charted the trajectory analysis for the first human spaceflight by Alan Shepard.

In 1962, when Astronaut John Glenn was selected for a space orbit mission, he insisted on getting Katherine’s calculation before he proceeded with the space flight. Katherine Johnson is credited for contributing to the smashing success of Astronaut John Glenn’s space mission.

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal Of Freedom.

Read more about Katherine Johnson by picking up a copy of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.

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