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NASA names street for "hidden" black women mathematicians

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson provided important contributions to aerospace research from the 1940s to the 1960s, when the United States first sent men to orbit and then walk on the moon.

Despite their achievements, all three must confront the race's segregation of the era.

They were among dozens of African Americans, both men and women, who worked as mathematicians and physicists for the American space program, even though they were forced to use separate whites from whites and were blocked from the same restaurants and schools visited by Whites.

Shetterly said the decision to prescribe the Hidden Figures Way honored "the contributions of invisible individuals there at the beginning of history, and whose perseverance and courage have delivered us to where we are today."

"These female mathematicians made heavy lifting in aviation research and many many other areas long before these pieces of electronic circuits became the decisive element of our life and work," she said at a Wednesday ceremony outside NASA.

In 2015, US President Barack Obama Johnson, who is now 100, gave the president's medal of freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Jackson and Vaughan died respectively 2005 and 2008.

NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 mission and humanity's first Moon Landing next month.

The agency last month announced its plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 through its "Artemis" program – named the Apollo twin sister in Greek mythology.

Katherine Johnson, seen here as the host president's medal of freedom from Barack Obama, made important contributions to US space flight research along with Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

The trio's work was largely forgotten until they were profiled in the book "Hidden Figures" decades later by author Margot Lee Shetterly

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