Shoulders to Stand On

Doghouse – Courage and Imagination

Article from Issue 234/2020

maddog calls for courage and imagination to overcome our prejudices and address the world's perplexing problems.

Today I received news that Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who performed many of the calculations used by the space program to put people on the moon, has died at the age of 101.

For those of you who did not see the movie Hidden Figures, Ms. Johnson had to fight against both racial and sexual discrimination to have her work accepted in the white male-dominated climate of that day.

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1950. I saw the "white persons water fountain," the "white persons lunch counter," and the signs that told black people to go to the back of the bus. Even many of our religious leaders told us that the white race needed to "take care of our black brothers and sisters." With all the prejudices that were present at that time, we can appreciate Katherine Johnson's contribution all the more knowing the obstacles she had to overcome. We can also see how the space program benefited from her presence.


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