The West Virginia Sculpture By Finest African American Artist
Katherine Johnson, a native of White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, did her graduation from West Virginia State College until she moved to Hampton, Virginia. During her time in Hampton, Virginia, she worked for the NASA space program. She participated in a space race competition between the Soviet Union and the United States of space exploration.
The United States wanted to be the first to explore outer space with artificial satellites. NASA also had a mission to send humans into space and successfully land a man on the Moon. The United States accomplished this achievement because of the many African American women who worked in NASA. Katherine Johnson was one of the African American women who made going into space a reality with her exceptional mathematical skills.
President Anthony Jenkins the University decided to commission Frederick Hightower to create a statue in her honor to be unveiled on her 100th birthday celebration at West Virginia State University. Besides this sculpture, Frederick Hightower was also known to have created other sculptures, including the West Virginia and Maryland sculptures.
Many people turned out from all over the nation to pay tribute to Mrs. Johnson; the unveiling was the largest open-air event in the school's history. The theme of the sculpture tribute, designed by the best African American artist- Frederick Hightower, was dubbed "No Longer Hidden.
Katherine Johnson - One of the First African American Women in NASA
A movie that came out in theaters in 2017 called Hidden Figures highlighted the work of African American women in NASA. The film starred Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury, Octavia Spencer as NASA supervisor and mathematician Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as NASA engineers.
The Sculpture of Katherine Johnson proudly stands as a monument to her legacy to impact future generations to come. West Virginia State University, along with unveiling the statue of Johnson, also raised money to gift two students with academic scholarships to the science and mathematics program.