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Katherine Johnson statue.
Katherine Johnson statue.

Hidden Figures: Katherine Johnson

Field review by the editors.

Institute, West Virginia

Katherine Johnson was only 14 when she began attending West Virginia State University -- because she had no chance for advanced education in her segregated hometown of White Sulphur Springs. She graduated with honors in 1937, with degrees in French and, more importantly, mathematics. Sixteen years later she was hired by the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics -- which later became NASA -- and it was there that she became famous for her calculations that helped launch America into the Space Race. Hollywood turned her story into an Oscar-nominated film in 2016. And on August 25, 2018, West Virginia State University unveiled a statue of Johnson as she looked during her early NASA years. The sculpture, by WVSU alumnus Frederick Hightower, is detailed down to the sequins on Johnson's glasses. The keynote speaker at the dedication was Dr. Yvonne Cagle, a NASA astronaut. Also in attendance was Johnson herself, one day shy of her 100th birthday.

Hidden Figures: Katherine Johnson

Barron Drive, Institute, WV
From WV-25/Fairlawn Ave. turn at the stoplight onto the campus of West Virginia State University. Drive a quarter-mile. The statue will be on the left, facing away from the street. If you reach the Thomas Cole Complex you've driven too far.
Save to My Sights

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