Today, in honor of Black History Month, we celebrate an African American mathematician named Katherine Johnson (1918-2020).
Johnson was born in West Virginia. Her intelligence, work ethic, and curiosity with numbers vaulted her through school quickly.
She enrolled in college at age 18 and was mentored by W. W. Schieffelin Clayton, the third African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in mathematics.
Johnson became a teacher and later became known for helping to write
launch trajectories and coordinates for two different missions to the moon, including Apollo 11. She is one of the women depicted in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures.
Sadly, Johnson passed away in February of 2020, but not before
receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.
Johnson’s life and legacy live on in the mathematics and science worlds.