Katherine Johnson, NASA pioneer
The Congressional Gold Medal is considered one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, celebrating individuals and groups who have made invaluable contributions to American history and culture. http://huffp.st/IiVw4TJ.The honor—which is given to trailblazers who have contributed to shaping American history—is one of the most prestigious awards distributed in the U.S., the news outlet writes. The decision to honor the women was made by a group of 44 political leaders including California Senator Kamala Harris, Delaware Senator Chris Coons and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. “These women were barrier breakers, and their immeasurable contributions to NASA and our nation have cemented their place in history,” said Harris in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I’m proud to help recognize their achievements as they continue to serve as a beacon for Black women both young and old, across the country.” Senator Coons added that their accomplishments remained hidden for far too long and that it’s not only important for them to be recognized for the indelible mark that they left in the STEM industry, but it’s essential for their stories to be brought to the forefront so they can serve as inspiration for the young women following in their footsteps. Several organizations dedicated to the advancement of women and people of color across different industries backed the bill. The organizations include Girl Scouts of the USA, the United Negro College Fund, the National Association of Mathematicians and others. The honors are continuing to roll in for the trailblazers who broke both gender and racial barriers in STEM. In June, West Virginia State University announced the creation of a bronze statue in Katherine Johnson’s honor as well as the launch of a scholarship fund named after her.