This week, USW Local Union 8888 will celebrate Black History Month by hosting its first-ever Distinguished Trailblazer Reception. The event includes a screening of the Oscar-nominated film, “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of Mary Jackson, one of the three black women who became aerospace engineers at NASA in 1958. Jackson has a special connection with 8888 — her daughter is married to Raymond Lewis, Trustree.
Jackson began working at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory’s segregated West Area Computing section in 1951 as a “computer” or mathematics researcher, where she, like other “colored” workers, endured numerous indignities because of their race and gender. She persevered and eventually entered a training program that helped her earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer. In 1958, Jackson became NASA’s first black female engineer.
Ms. Jackson was much more than a trailblazer. She taught, tutored, mentored and raised a family. She was a Girl Scout troop leader for more than three decades. She even took a voluntary demotion later in her career that opened the door for other women in the math, science and engineering fields at NASA. She retired from Langley in 1985 and passed away in 2005.
8888 President Arnold Outlaw said Jackson was, “part of our extended union family. So it’s both timely and appropriate during Black History Month for us to publicly say ‘Thank You,’ to ‘Mother’ Mary’s family for her kindness and towering accomplishments.”