Katherine Coleman Johnson, Black!

Source: wikipedia.com
On February 24, 2020, at the age of 102, Katherine Johnson passed away. Her story and that of the women working with her was told in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”. Her calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. 
Black and mathematician,
NASA scientist
Woman and scientist,
Black woman and pioneer!

What would you tell us today about your journey?
What would you leave us today as lessons learned during your journey?
Certainly, it was not easy to leave your ingenious legacy
As a woman, and especially as a black woman. 

Nevertheless you pressed on…
You didn’t stop
And you didn’t let anyone stop you,
And you endured in silence the institutionalized racial injustice.

Doing your job was the only thing that mattered the most.
A job well done
A scientist's work, that of a NASA mathematician
A pioneer’s work.

Your hard work and character
Resonate louder today, very loud …
Some would have expected you to play the victim
And thus find another reason to further marginalize you.

But you remained quiet, focusing on what mattered the most:
Your work, a work well done.
Because you knew that even if you didn’t scream,
History, one day, will scream for you, and would shout louder.

Because your subconscious knew
That decades and decades down the road,
A black president will award you
The Presidential Medal of Freedom!

And across the world,
During your hundreth birthday year
A movie about you, will scream to the world
Your hardship and your success as a black woman at NASA.

Katherine, rest in peace, on this day of February 24, 2020.

Dodzi Jean-Antoine Amemado is a university scholar. He also works with the Federal Government in Ottawa.

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 02:06h, 15 April Reply

    WOW! Great story, full of inspiration! Thank you!

  • Philip Shano
    Posted at 08:30h, 15 April Reply

    Dodzi, thanks for this. I had read about her and was so grateful for her strength. I hope that you are doing well and staying safe.

  • Marcel Uwineza, SJ
    Posted at 09:59h, 15 April Reply

    This is inspiring, Dr. Dozi.
    Thank you for sharing with me. It is an invitation to keep doing our best even when the contexts set limitations for us to fail. AMDG

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 11:54h, 15 April Reply

    Thank you, for your touching piece, about an outstanding woman, who largely went unnoticed, but who certainly has a place in American and world history. Such a brave courageous and inspiring woman, to be remembered and honoured. I came to know about her and a group of black women who were instrumental, but unrecognized, from the movie, Hidden Figures. I thought the movie was outstanding, for the depiction of these great brave souls. Thanks, for bringing the attention to her, which she so deserves.

  • Philomène Amemado-Attipou
    Posted at 12:18h, 15 April Reply

    This is an incredible and amazing inspiration for us. We need to continue to show the best of us no matter the difficulties we face.
    Well done ( baby brother), Dr. Dodzi Amemado!

  • Philomène Amemado-Attipou
    Posted at 12:23h, 15 April Reply

    Very brilliant, Dr. Dodzi Amemado!
    Continue the good work!

  • Dr. Pierre Kadi Sossou
    Posted at 13:04h, 18 April Reply

    Grand Prêtre Mère Kathy

    Katherine was not only black, she was a woman who decided to be a subject not an object, who decide to exist, to be what she wanted to be and not what others wanted her to be. She was ancestor of the “Grand Prêtre Mère” (Grand Priest Mother). In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, people often use “Grand Prêtre” to tell someone he is the boss, he is important, he is of value. Obviously, this title is masculine and exclusively reserved for men. To honor women who support in many ways their household and the Congolese economy at large, the Slammer Do Nsosemo Dora elected to call them “Grands Prêtres Mères” = women of value.

    “Some would have expected you to play the victim
    And thus find another reason to further marginalize you.”

    Here is where Dodzi’s verse echoes Nsosemo’s slam poetry:

    We let time pass,
    And we are constantly looking for ourselves
    While we are in the instant
    Where we decide to get up, to lie down, to walk, to seek, or to move away from clichés and let freedom approach us.

    Why ?
    All that…
    To reach the ultimate goal:
    Be ourselves and not the victim
    Of the image that society sublimates.

    [On laisse passer le temps,
    Et on se cherche incessamment
    Pendant qu’on se trouve dans l’instant
    Où on se décide de se lever, de se coucher, de marcher, de chercher, ou de se repêcher en s’éloignant de clichés pour laisser la liberté nous approcher.

    Pourquoi ?
    Tout ça…
    Pour arriver au but ultime :
    Être soi-même et pas la victime
    De l’image que la société sublime.]

    (Extracted from “Construction”, a terrific slam written by Dora to honor the Grand Prêtre Mère.)

    Thanks Dr. Dodzi.

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