HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Members of the United Steelworkers Local 8888 handed over a petition to the city of Hampton Wednesday to honor a woman who grew up there and was a trailblazer in the space program.
“She persevered because she had history and faith on her side,” said President Arnold Outlaw.
Mary Jackson was NASA’s first African-American female engineer, one of three women featured in the book and recent film “Hidden Figures” about their roles in the space program. According to a biography by Margot Lee Shetterly on NASA’s website, Jackson worked on research reports related to the layer of air around airplanes and retired from Langley in 1985.
The group wants to rename a street or park after her, preferably Queen Street, where she lived. The petition has more than 2,500 signatures, Outlaw said.
“I’m here to support something being done to acknowledge what she was able to accomplish at such a difficult time in the city’s history and in the nation’s history,” said Sen. Mamie Locke (D) of Hampton.
Jackson spent years contributing to the local community as a longtime Girl Scout troop volunteer who opened up her home to youth, according to her son-in-law Raymond Lewis.
“She didn’t just help herself. She helped the whole community. She taught kids. She lectured. She gave inspiration to a lot of black engineers to become what they are,” Lewis said.
Supporters of the petition are expected to attend the next city council meeting on July 12.