WASHINGTON D.C. (WVEC) — A bill has passed in the U.S. Senate on Thursday to award Congressional Gold Medals to the women who contributed to the success of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the Space Race.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S.
Senators. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine from Virginia introduced the bill to award Congressional Gold Medals Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden, to posthumously award Congressional Gold Medals to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, and to award a Congressional Gold Medal to honor all of the women who are famously portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures.
“These four remarkable women and their contributions to the success of the Space Race remained unacknowledged for far too long,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled that their achievements while at NASA Langley—particularly during a tough period of racial inequality—continue to be brought to light. This recognition will help carve their rightful place in history and inspire a new generation of diverse women to lead the way in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”
The Act is being called the “Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act.” The Act moves to the house next, then, if passed, the President's desk to be signed.
In 1935, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) hired 5 women to serve as the first “computer pool” at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory where those women took on work making calculations that male engineers had made previously.
It wasn't until the1940s that NACA began recruiting African American women to work like computers. Initially, these women were separated from their white counterparts in a group known as the “West Area Computers,” where the women were restricted to segregated dining and bathroom facilities.
Check out the full Act below:
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