The NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. is now known as the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building – honoring the agency’s very first African American woman to work there as an engineer.
Jackson, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 83, began working at NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1951, and continued at NASA where she became an engineer until her retirement in 1985. NASA mentions in her biography that “in the 1950s, she very well may have been the only black female aeronautical engineer in the field”.
“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” says NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”
The decision to change the name of the building at Two Independence Square took effect on June 24th. Her daughter, Carolyn Lewis, says in a statement by NASA that the family is “honored that NASA continues to celebrate” her legacy, calling her a “scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation”.