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The original item was published from 8/26/2016 4:47:12 PM to 8/26/2016 5:11:19 PM.

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* Hampton City News

Posted on: August 26, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Hundreds gather to celebrate birthday, accomplishments of NASA 'computer' Katherine Johnson


Aug. 27, 2016 - There was standing room only Friday afternoon when a crowd of more than 200 men, women and children gathered at Hampton’s Carousel Park to celebrate the accomplishments of 98-year-old retired NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Johnson, the subject of a soon-to-be-released Hollywood movie, was a math prodigy who became a “human computer” at NASA during the early years of the space program and helped plot the trajectory of various space missions, including John Glenn’s trip into space.

Mayor Donnie Tuck, City Manager Mary Bunting, members of City Council and others watched as a special marker and bench honoring Johnson were unveiled. Johnson, who turned 98 Friday, told the group she really appreciated their kindness, thoughtfulness and remembrances. She was joined by her husband, children, grandchildren and other family members. The family members of other trailblazing "computers" were also on hand.

The ceremony was sponsored by Hampton’s Convention and Visitors Bureau; the National Technical Association, an organization dedicated to addressing the lack of minority participation in mainstream architectural and engineering activity; and the Sankofa Projects, an organization that creates cultural and educational programs focused on the experience of the African diaspora.

“Hidden Figures,” the movie about Johnson’s life and trials as a black “computer” at NASA, will be released in January. The stars of the movie, Taraji P. Henson, Jonelle Monae and Octavia Spencer, sent Johnson birthday wishes Friday, as did former astronaut Leland Melvin.

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