Clark Atlanta University is awarding an honorary degree to Katherine Johnson, the late-in-life celebrity depicted by actress Taraji P. Henson in the movie ‘Hidden Figures.’
Johnson, 98, will be unable to make it to the Monday commencement, but the historic black college and university was able to produce and share the video below of a short interview with the former NASA mathematician who broke racial and gender barriers to help put some of the first American’s into space.
Johnson was a West Virginia whiz kid, going to high school at 10 and graduating from college at 18. She got a job as a teacher before hearing that the government agency, which later became NASA, was looking for mathematicians to solve complex math problems related to flight in the age before computers. She went to work for it in 1953. Below is a photo of Johnson at work.
She retired in 1986, but has seen a resurgence of attention because of this year’s movie about her and other African American women who helped America get into space and onto the moon. Below is Johnson and stars of ‘Hidden Figures’ during this year’s Academy Awards.
Johnson, in the video, counsels all people to work hard at what they do, learn as much as possible, and help others.