February 28, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 40 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
HONORING KATHERINE JOHNSON; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 40
(Extensions of Remarks - February 28, 2020)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E235] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] HONORING KATHERINE JOHNSON _____ HON. KENDRA S. HORN of oklahoma in the house of representatives Friday, February 28, 2020 Ms. KENDRA S. HORN of Oklahoma. Madam Speaker, today I rise to honor the legacy of Mrs. Katherine Johnson, a beloved American hero who passed away on February 24, 2020, at 101 years old. Mrs. Johnson was an African American pioneer in aeronautical mathematics and was one of the original ``Hidden Figures'' behind NASA's work. Her mathematical work was critical to our nation's first moon landing and it is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of this extraordinary woman. We must never forget Mrs. Johnson's extraordinary accomplishments, and, we must ensure that her legacy will continue to live on and inspire generations of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Born in 1918 in West Virginia during the era of Jim Crow, Katherine Johnson faced many challenges during her lifetime. In the face of adversity, Katherine became one of only three African American students to attend West Virginia's graduate schools. After graduating from West Virginia State College, she planned to dedicate her career to teaching at a public school in Virginia. As we now know, life took this woman in a very different direction. In 1953, Mrs. Johnson accepted a job as a ``computer'' at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), where she checked her superior's math to ensure accuracy for NACA, which would later become NASA. After only two weeks of work, she became a permanent mathematician for NASA and spent the next four years of her life analyzing flight tests. In 1958, Mrs. Johnson went on to work on trajectory analysis for America's first human spaceflight, Freedom 7 Mission. Just two years later, she accomplished what no woman had--she coauthored equations depicting orbital spaceflight and the landing positions of spacecraft. While Mrs. Johnson's work was not given fair recognition at the time, her calculations were critical to bridging the gap between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Space Race and completing the first successful manned lunar landing. We must not forget the pioneering work of women like Katherine Johnson. Last year, I was proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Katherine Johnson and all of the ``Hidden Figures'' women who made NASA's work possible. During her lifetime, Katherine Johnson also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2015 for her groundbreaking work. As Chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating the life and legacy of Mrs. Katherine Johnson as an American trailblazer in mathematics and engineering who ultimately shaped space history in the United States and globally. ____________________