Despite the fact that Katherine Johnson was the "human computer" behind the calculations that launched the first American in space, the NASA mathematician remained a hidden figure for much of her life. Finally, after 100 years (yes, the national treasure turned 100 this year!) Johnson will be telling her own story.
Johnson's new book "Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson" will be published next fall according to Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The book, which is aimed at middle school children, will detail her incredible journey to becoming the mathematician who calculated the path for the first human to land on the moon.
The living legend, says she wants young girls to "bring the spirit of curiosity to everything you do," she told MAKERS in August.
Before Neil Armstrong made "one small step for man," MAKER Katherine Johnson was making giant leaps for all women. But her contributions to U.S. history remained largely unknown until recent years.
"Black women have been part of every great movement in American history—even if they weren't always given a voice," President Barack Obama said while honoring Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
But Johnson is finally receiving all the honors she deserves. In the past decade, Johnson has inspired a bestselling book, an Oscar-nominated movie dedicated to her legacy (in which she is played by Taraji P. Henson), a NASA building named in her honor, a statue erected at her alma mater West Virginia State University, and more.
Through all her accomplishments, Johnson hopes not only to show young people that they can achieve anything no matter their gender or race. She also wants to remind everyone to live with dignity and grace. Says Johnson, "My father always told me that no matter how smart I was, I was no better than any other person—and no less."