Katherine Johnson (August 26, 1918 - February 24, 2020)
Born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, Johnson loved numbers as a child. She started college at West Virginia State University at age 15 and blew through the school catalog's listed courses; her professor created new ones just for her. By 18, she had graduated summa cum laude with degrees in math and French. But career paths for black women were stark in the 1940s, even with a mind as sharp as Johnson's. She taught school for more than a decade before joining the space race as one of the women, black and white, whom NASA (and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA) hired as "computers"— people to do the math that kept NASA running. Continue . . .