Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act Passes House
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act, H.R. 1396, on September 19, 2019. If enacted, the measure will award Congressional Gold Medals—the highest honor bestowed by Congress—to Katherine Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and to all the women who contributed to the success of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race.
In recognition of the ‘Hidden Figures,’ U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record:
Thank you to my good friend, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, for introducing this bill.
Katherine Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—most people know them as the “Hidden Figures”
I think it’s safe to say these women of color are “hidden figures” no longer.
Thanks to them and many other women, we were able to reach for the stars and put a man on the moon.
Today, we honor these brave, brilliant women.
They accomplished what many thought impossible and proved—to paraphrase Katherine Johnson—that “Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they even have more imagination than men.”
In that spirit, I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act and urge all my colleagues to support this resolution.
During the 1940s, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA’s predecessor) began recruiting African-American women to work as ‘human computers’ and initially separated them from their White counterparts in a group known as the ‘West Area Computers.’ For decades, these female employees helped propel American space exploration, leading to John Glenn’s successful orbit around Earth and Apollo 11’s moon landing.
The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act is awaiting further consideration by the U.S. Senate.