Group wants honor for woman who helped inspire “Hidden Figures”

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 17:24:29-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Members of the United Steelworkers Local 8888 want a street or public park named after Mary Jackson.

Jackson was a NASA mathematician who broke through racial and gender barriers during the 1960s and helped launch the first Americans into space. The Hampton native was one of the inspirations for the critically-acclaimed movie "Hidden Figures." Recording artist Janelle Monae played her in the film.

Members of the group presented a petition at Hampton City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, proposing the city rename a street or park after her.

"This is life changing," said Raymond Lewis, Jackson's son-in-law and member of the Local 8888. "We want the world to know that not only did the astronauts do a lot for this country, but there were a lot of black people behind the scenes that did a lot for this country and us in the space race.

City council will review the petition.  Supporters will speak before them during the next meeting on July 12.

Among the supports of the idea is State Senator Mamie Locke. "Had it not been for [Jackson], Dorothy Vaughan, and Katherine Johnson, I wouldn't have been able to do what I've been able to do."

Of the three women who inspired the movie and book, only Katherine Johnson is still alive. News 3 spoke to the 98-year old in January. "It feels good," she said of the attention to the women's story.