Hidden Figures Commemorative Act Signed Into Law

Hidden Figures Commemorative Act Signed Into Law

President Trump signed into law today a bill honoring women who worked at NASA through the 1970s and helped the agency achieve its many successes during that era. In particular, it awards congressional gold medals to four “Hidden Figures” whose contributions to putting the first Americans into space formed the basis of the book and movie of that title.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)

The bill, H.R. 1396, was sponsored by House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) along with 314 cosposors and passed the House on September 19.  The Senate had already passed a similar bill, S. 590, sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), but later took up Johnson’s version and passed it on October 17.

The bill awards individual congressional gold medals to Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and, posthumously, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson. A group medal will also be awarded to recognize all women who, like those four, served as human computers, mathematicians and engineers at NASA and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware)

Today Johnson and Coons issued a joint statement.  Johnson said she is “thrilled” it was signed into law, calling the bill “long overdue” and thanked her colleagues in Congress for supporting it.  “Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, Christine Darden, and all the women of NASA and NACA will now receive the recognition they deserve for their great accomplishments in the successes of the United States space program.”

Coons said he is “proud President Trump signed” the bill into law. “Women played an integral role at NASA during the Space Race, but for many years their accomplishments remained hidden. With the signing of this bill, we are recognizing these extraordinary women and bringing their accomplishments into the light so they can serve as an inspiration for generations of women scientists to come, particularly those of color.”

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