West Virginia August 10, 2022
The Charming Small Town In West Virginia That Was Home To Katherine Johnson Once Upon A Time
Some pretty famous people hail from West Virginia, and, as they should be, they are proud of it. Don Knotts. Brad Paisley. Jennifer Garner. Chuck Yeager. Mary Lou Retton. Homer Hickam. Michael W. Smith. Kathy Mattea. And…
On August 26, 1918, a brand new baby girl was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to proud parents Joylette and Joshua Coleman: little Creola Katherine.
Youngest of four. A mathematic genius from a young age. Barred from the public high schools of Greenbrier County because she was African-American.
Attended high school in Kanawha County instead, and graduated at the tender age of 14. Aced every single math class offered at her Alma Mater, West Virginia State College in the town of Institute (the college even added several new math courses just for her!). Completed dual degrees in mathematics and French by age 18. The first African-American woman to attend graduate school at WVU.
Wife. Mother. Research mathematician. NASA employee. Human computer. Widow. Aerospace technologist.
Have you figured out who baby Creola Katherine grew up to be? West Virginia's very own Katherine Johnson, the pioneering Black woman who calculated the trajectory for the first American in space (Alan Shepard) and verified the numbers generated by an electronic computer for John Glenn's historic orbit around Earth (by his special, specific request).
She also helped with the calculations for the trajectory of the Apollo 11 venture to the moon. Her work allowed the crew of the Apollo 13 to return safely to Earth when their mission was aborted. She contributed to the Space Shuttle program, the Earth Resources Satellite, and missions to Mars. Her life story (or part of it, anyway) was told in the book "Hidden Figures," as well as the film by the same name.
She fought for her place early in life and was honored, not only by her hometown but also by the whole nation, at the end of it, and West Virginians are proud to claim her as one of ours.
As we alluded to at the beginning of the article, Katherine Johnson is one of
many famous people born in West Virginia. Who knew? Address: White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, USA