Johnson, an African-American woman from West Virginia, and her work would go virtually unrecognized until her story (along with her colleagues) made it to the silver screen in 2016, in Hidden Figures, which went on to receive three Oscar nominations.
Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of the book that inspired the film, was also in attendance serving as the event’s keynote speaker. “Telling your story has been an honor,” Shetterly said. “Your work changed our history and your history has changed our future.”
In a pre-taped video ahead of the ceremony, Johnson was asked about how she felt about the 37,000 square foot facility created in her honor. “You want my honest answer? I think they’re crazy,” she said, with a big smile and quiet laugh. “I was excited at something new, always liked something new, but give credit to everybody who helped. I didn’t do anything alone but try to go to the root of the question and succeeded there.”