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Katherine Johnson, Hidden Figures inspo and mathematician for NASA, dies at 101

“Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing," former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson said. "Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”

It was these words, as well as Katherine's actions, that inspired young women around the world. Katherine passed away at the age of 101 on Monday, Feb. 24, marking a sad day in history for the scientific community.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine initially announced Katherine's death on Twitter, followed by a series of tributes tweeted (and retweeted) by the official NASA account. 

Katherine's legacy will not be forgotten. As portrayed in the film Hidden Figures by Taraji P. Henson, Katherine faced immense racism and sexism as one of the first African American women hired in computing at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics - now called NASA. 

But Katherine did not let adversity hold her back. She computed the trajectory for the mission of the first man in space - entirely by hand - as well as playing in a role in the computation of the first moon landing.

In 2015, Katherine received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

"In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars," the former president said at a White House ceremony in 2015.

Taraji took to Instagram to post about the news, calling Katherine a "queen" along with the hashtag #HiddenNoMore.

A trailblazer for women of color in STEM fields, Katherine is and will forever be an icon for young women and, particularly, women of color. In a ripple effect that travels far beyond the scientific community, she will be missed. 

Watch NASA's tribute video for Katherine below:

by Logan Potter | 2/25/2020