National lawmakers honor Katherine Johnson

WASHINGTON D.C. – The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution to honor NASA mathematician and West Virginia native Katherine Johnson Thursday.

Johnson died Monday at the age of 101. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures” was based on her life.

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the resolution, according to a news release from Manchin’s office.

“A White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia native, Katherine Johnson not only completed groundbreaking work at NASA during the space race, but also broke the barriers of race and gender during a critical time in our nation,” said Manchin. “Katherine graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia State College in 1937 with degrees in mathematics and French and became the first African-American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University. She began her work as a mathematician for NASA, eventually running the equations that sent the first American astronaut to orbit Earth. Because of the accomplishments of intellectual leaders like Katherine Johnson, more young women have, and will, blaze their own trails in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, and will continue to make our state and entire nation proud. We cannot thank Katherine enough for her contributions to our state and our nation and she will be missed greatly by us all.”

“Katherine Johnson proved to us that no obstacle is too high if you work hard and believe in your goals,” said Capito. “As a West Virginian, Katherine used her toughness and grit to surpass societal barriers and turn her dreams into a reality. The legacy of Katherine Johnson will be remembered every time we look up at the moon and remember how her work took us there for the first time. As the first female U.S. Senator from West Virginia, I am not only continuously inspired by Katherine’s story, but I am also inspired by her kindness and humility. Generations of little girls who also aspire to reach the stars will draw strength and encouragement from Katherine’s legacy. Her work is no longer hidden by the shadows of the men she put on the moon. Katherine Johnson will forever be a star in the Mountain State and will be significantly missed by all.”

“NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars. Her Presidential Medal of Freedom was a well-deserved recognition. At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential.”