Hampton community center named in honor of trailblazing NASA engineer Mary Jackson


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Hampton hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Mary Jackson Neighborhood Center on Tuesday, named in honor of the trailblazing Hampton resident.

Jackson broke down barriers for both women and minorities by becoming NASA’s first Black female engineer in 1958.

A member of the Jackson family, the steering committee and Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck were in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony. The center will be at 201 Lincoln Street and is expected to be complete by late 2021.

Jackson started in a segregated unit as a “human computer” alongside mathematician Katherine Johnson — with Dorothy Vaughan as their supervisor. Their accomplishments were highlighted in the hit movie “Hidden Figures.”

In 2020, NASA named their headquarters building after Jackson.

The president of United Steelworkers Local 8888 says the organization was proud to be part of the center’s planning. They helped collect signatures to make the center a reality.

In a statement, Rev. Charles Spivey said in part,

“The importance of naming of this center for an iconic African American woman cannot be overstated. For too long, the images and successes of Black women have ben devalued or erased from our national and local history. Now, young girls and female students of all colors will be able to see and feel a connected to a city facility that validates their dreams and says the lives of Black women really do matter.”

Rev. Charles Spivey, United Steelworkers Local 8888 President

The community steering committee has been working for three years to name the Hampton center after Jackson.

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