“I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.”
Graduated HS at 14. College at 18. Left teaching to go work for NACA (NASA’s predecessor) as a “computer” under a recruitment effort of African American women for their Guidance and Navigation Department.
And not just brilliant, but recognized:
As a computer, she calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space. Even after NASA began using electronic computers, John Glenn requested that she personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth.
On Tuesday, she became a recipient of the National Medal of Freedom.
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