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Katherine Johnson - an African American Hero

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For many years tons of people have made a huge difference in this world and they have not gained the recognition they deserve. If you think about it everyone gets their knowledge from something or someone. Everything we discover has already been discovered by our pioneers which we’ve never acknowledged because of the amount of knowledge we have about the past life. Before the 1950’s, the acceptance rate of colored people and women were very low. Decades ago there was an African American woman named Katherine Johnson who worked for NASA. Katherine Johnson made a change in society, she changed NASA for the better forever.

Early Life

For several years Katherine Johnson has always been a talented woman striving to do well in school. Growing up in Virginia in the early 1900s, the supply of education given for black students was very limited. She grew up in a home where education was highly valued; traveling miles away from home to seek education was very important to her and her siblings. Katherine Johnson was such a profound thinker in math. She started high school at the age of ten and graduated at the age of fourteen. Katherine Johnson was one hundred percent and extraordinary person with the knowledge she received from West Virginia State College. She was the first African American woman admitted into West Virginia State. Before even thinking about working or being apart of NASA in any way she began her career as a teacher. “My father was a big influence in my life, teaching me many things” (Katherine Johnson).

Katherine Johnson’s Work

When you hear the name Katherine Johnson many people will ask who is that? Who is that you ask? Katherine Johnson help NASA figure out ways to put astronauts in space to orbit around the earth. In the 21st century , we use the internet for almost everything which is slowly decreasing our knowledge of doing things on our owns. Unlike, the 20th century where they did everything by hand, which increased their knowledge and memorization of numbers like Katherine Johnson. This is also why they called Katherine Johnson the human-computer because she was able to solve long problems for NASA using their books and equipment.

In her lifetime she has received so many awards due to the many accomplishments and long hours she’s worked. In 1967 and 1970 she received two NASA group achievement. In 1970, 1980, 1988 she received the special achievement award and in 1977, she received the mathematician of the year award. In 1998, she also received an honorary doctorate award from the state university of New York. Moving into the 2000’s, she received the presidential medal of freedom in 2015. In 2016, NASA named a building The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility in honor of her . 2 years ago in an interview Katherine Johnson stated, “I am 98 my greatest accomplishments, just staying alive”( Katherine Johnson).


Katherine Johnson has impacted a countless number of people culturally, physically, and mentally. Katherine Johnson working for NASA also had its impact in World War 2 with a massive production of warplanes. The basic calculations for wind-tunnel testing were tedious, precise, and never ending. Not only did Katherine successfully send people to space she also showed women and women of color that anyone can work for NASA. Most women were know to be work at home parents, but working for a company with all men was truly impossible and being colored working there was even more distressing.


Considering that Katherine worked for NASA, she has been apart of many projects involving planes and getting the calculations to match that plane. She developed trajectories and emergency navigational methods for astronauts in the Apollo moon-landing project. In West Virginia State College she became immersed in academia and mathematics program. I 1961 she began working on calculations for american space trip with Alan Shepherd. She started working for NASA in 1953 and retired after 33 years of service in 1986. Johnson has been honored with an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the State University of New York and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Capitol College in Maryland and Old Dominion University in Virginia.

She became known for her training in geometry and soon started using old calculations from NASA to figure out the problem areas.


Katherine Johnson made a change in society she changed NASA for the better forever. Trying to find education in a small town in the 1900’s was one of the hardest things to have to do for Katherine and her siblings. Sometimes in the process we do really good things and don’t even realize it well changing the world was Katherine’s good deed. She is so proud to have all of the accomplishments she has and is honored with so much.

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