While most people were becoming famous in the entertainment industry, Katherine Johnson worked behind closed doors and gained prominence as a brainiac and mathematician. Her intriguing and precise calculations resulted to men safely traveling to the moon without facing any obstacles, she has contributed in no small measure to many projects of The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) activities.
Ironically, only a few who are detailed with science facts are familiar with her, however after her character was portrayed by Taraji P Henson in the movie, Hidden Figures. She became a person of interest and has gone ahead to cause traffics on search engines with a lot wanting to know more about her. The paragraphs below has the answers to your questions, read on…
Katherine Johnson’s Bio
Katherine Johnson is the youngest daughter and child of Joshua and Joylette Coleman who was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs. She has four other siblings. Her intellect for maths began when she was a child as she was an exceptional number cruncher. With her stormy brainy performance in class, she attended West Virginia State High School in 1928 and graduated when she was just 14.
Also, during her days at high school, Katherine’s interest in astronomy was spurred after she took a walk with her principal pointing out stars and constellations. She graduated from high school in 1932 and chose to attend West Virginia State College running on a full scholarship. As a junior in college, Katherine Johnson majored in maths and French after she was undecided on which of the subjects to major in. The brainiac later graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mathematics and French, at age 18 becoming the first African American to attend and graduate from the college.
Upon graduation from college, she accepted an offer to teach maths and French at an elementary school in West Virginia. However, things didn’t turn out as smoothly as she had imagined. Most residents in West Virginia as of that time were white, and being that Katherine is an African-American, she encountered a lot of racist slur on her way to work but that didn’t deter her willingness to teach.
Through the following years, she kept impacting knowledge in a lot of children moving as a teacher from school to school until 1953 when she was employed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) now known as The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There, she served the organization as a “computer” (Human-computer ie. someone who performs mathematical calculations prior to the invention of electronic computers), analyzing most subject matters and ensuring accuracy with the work system. Later on, she was moved to a ‘supposedly all male working staff abode’ known as Guidance and Control Division of the Langley’s Flight Research Division.
Meanwhile, as of that time, black NASA employees were treated differently. They had their separate restroom and the women employees were not allowed to attend briefings and were also not allowed to put their names on research reports.
From 1958 until her retirement, Katherine Johnson served NASA as an aerospace technologist. It was with the success of her trajectory calculations that Alan Shepard used to make a space flight and landing on May 5, 1961. She was also one of the brains behind the 1961 Mercury mission. Subsequently, Katherine Johnson became topnotch in Nasa and was always referred to whenever there were mathematical calculations to be resolved. In 1961, her work aided in establishing the Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mercury Capsule. She has also proved her immensely valuable in her precise calculations which saw the success of plenty journies by various astronauts to the moon and back. More so, she is one of the heads who saw to the success of the journey to planet Mars.
What with her contributions to the States, the former president of the United States of America, President Barack Obama presented Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 24, 2015.
Family – Parents, Husband, and Children
Joshua, Katherine’s father worked as a farmer while her mom, Joylette was his support system. Despite the struggles of racism, Joshua and Joylette ensured that their children got the best of education and helped them live through all the bullies and hard times.
After graduation from college, Katherine settled and married a man named James Francis Globe. With him, she had three daughters, Constance, Joylette, and Katherine. All three followed the footsteps of their mother and also became teachers. Through the years, Katherine and James lived as one and they fought through all health challenges together until 1956 when James passed on as a result of a brain tumor.
Four years after the death of James Francis Globe, Katherine married James A Johnson- a man she met during her days as a choir member in Carver Memorial Presbyterian. With him, she has six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren
Is Katherine Johnson Dead or Alive?
As of the day this article was written, Katherine Johnson is very much alive. Although she is way old now, over a hundred years and counting, she has lived all her days on earth is and enjoying very fruit she sowed during her heydays with NASA.