WASHINGTON – This Friday, NASA is commemorating the naming of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., in honor of Hampton native Mary W. Jackson.
Jackson was NASA’s first Black female engineer. She started her career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton. Her groundbreaking work was celebrated in the book and movie, Hidden Figures, along with Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan.
NASA Langley’s first Black center director, Clayton Turner, said seeing Jackson’s name on NASA’s building is a beacon of hope.
“The idea that Mary Jackson's name is going to be on that building for all time… That's pretty monumental,” said Turner. “Mary Jackson represents somebody who did not fall into the ‘I can't.' She did not give up. She did not believe in impossible. She believed there were things that were hard, but hard does not equal impossible. And that's something that we all need to hold on to.”
NASA officially named its headquarters in honor of Jackson last summer, but the ceremony was delayed due to the pandemic. The space agency is moving forward with a closed celebration Friday, February 26 from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. It will be streamed live on NASA.