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NASA Pioneer Katherine G. Johnson to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Today the White House will recognize two extraordinary Black women pioneers with the highest civilian honor. One of whom is Shirley Chisholm. The other is 97 year old Katherine G. Johnson.

Johnson is a mathematician who spent much of her career with NASA.  She came to the agency shortly after they began recruiting women and People of color in the 1950s, but those around her say Johnston refused to go uncredited for her work.
According to the Visionary Leadership Project,  "Katherine was assertive, asking to be included in editorial meetings (where no women had gone before.) She simply told people she had done the work and that she belonged."

In 1953,  Katherine calculated the flight plan for NASA's first mission to space. She went on to do calculations for historic space trips in the 1960s including John Glenn's 1962 mission to orbit the earth and Apollo 11 in 1969.

Johnson's success is a testament to the importance of guidance and mentorship. She recalls growing up with a desire to be a "college teacher," but her career path changed when one of her college professors encouraged to apply to the Langley Research Center at NASA.

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