By 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Talk about mind-blowing. If you saw 2016’s “Hidden Figures,” a movie about three African-American women who helped American astronaut John Glenn catapult into space and orbit the earth, can you imagine what it’s like to find another Hidden Figure in our midst?
I walked into Branford Career Institute (right there near Journal Square in Jersey City), and there, hidden in a classroom, was Marion Lee Johnson. This is the lady whose work landed astronaut Neil Armstrong ON THE MOON!! Yes, “that” Marion Lee Johnson. And it freaked everybody out at the school! Students didn’t know who she was (except this no-nonsense professor, teaching computer and security systems).
During a Black History Week project, one of the school administrators noticed Ms. Johnson’s name on NASA’s Saturn Five “Roll of Honor,” and that set off alarms! Who knew?? Ms. J told me her own daughters didn’t know, until they saw the movie and recalled a time when mom mentioned that she worked for NASA and Boeing “and did a little work” on the Lunar Landing Mission. HAH! And the students love her! Alex Velez says, “It was an honor to study under such a pioneering and amazing woman.”
Another student (who studied under Johnson and now owns his own company) says he won’t hire anybody unless Ms. Johnson approves of them first. She is the mathematician who got hired on at Boeing (as an engineer), who conducted trial runs and provided data input which led to the historic lunar landing. Needless to say, since word spread of an icon in our midst, Ms. Johnson’s star has (dare I say) “taken off like a rocket!” She lives in Plainfield, New Jersey where they’ve given her the key to the city and two designated days honoring her legacy. She’s also listed in NASA’s “Roll of Honor” in its Saturn V program, at the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress.
I was proud to see her receive a 1010WINS 2017 Visionary Award as well. Much deserved. To me, she’s proof that sometimes if you reach for the stars, you might get a chance a touch the moon.