Katherine G. Johnson has been selected to deliver the Spring commencement speech at Hampton University, one of the nation’s premier historically black colleges. In 2015, the ‘Hidden Figure’ was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Johnson is one of the leading inspirations behind the Hollywood feature film Hidden Figures.
“With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind,” Obama said. “From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones.
Obama went on to say, “Katherine Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”
Hampton University Newsroom released an announcement on their website “HU News” that states the university is “pleased” that Johnson will be addressing the school’s graduation ceremony:
“Considered to be one of NASA’s human ‘computers,’ Johnson performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight. In 1961, Johnson was tasked with plotting the path for Alan Shepard’s journey to space, the first in American history. Johnson was later responsible for verifying calculations of the ‘machines’ and giving the “go-ahead” to propel John Glenn into successful orbit in 1962.”
“Johnson earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and French from West Virginia State College. In 1999, that university named Johnson ‘Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.'”
According to HU News, the black college alum and her late husband James Goble sent all three of their daughters to historically black Hampton University. The ceremony will be taking place at Armstrong Stadium on Sunday, May 14.