NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson passed away yesterday morning at 101 years old. Taraji P. Henson, who played her in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, honored her on social media.
Henson wrote on her Instagram, “Thank you QUEEN #KatherineJohnson for sharing your intelligence, poise, grace and beauty with the world! Because of your hard work little girls EVERYWHERE can dream as big as the MOON!!! Your legacy will live on FOREVER AND EVER!!! You ran so we could fly!!!”
She continued, “I will forever be honored to have been a part of bringing your story to life. You/your story was hidden and thank GOD you are #hiddennomore🚀 God bless your beautiful family. I am so honored to have sat and broke bread with you all. My thoughts and prayers are with you! #RIHKatherineJohnson #representationmatters.”
Katherine Johnson was originally from White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and made history as one of the first Black women to work as a NASA scientist. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights, most notably for John Glenn, the first American in orbit in 1962.
In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama said about Johnson at the time that Johnson was “a pioneer in American space history."