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Documentary, Film to Showcase WV-born NASA Mathematician

The State Journal

by Jim Workman

Despite her extremely accomplished career, most people are just now becoming aware of White Sulphur Springs-native Katherine Johnson through the critically-acclaimed motion picture “Hidden Figures.”

The movie opens Jan. 6 in approximately 2,400 theaters nationwide. But a MotionMasters-produced documentary titled “Outlier: The Story of Katherine Johnson,” aims to go further, sharing even more about a remarkable life which began in Greenbrier County, saw Johnson achieve groundbreaking status as a 1930-era, African-American female honors student at West Virginia State College and West Virginia University, all the way to playing a key role during the peak of the United States’ space program, working for NASA from 1953 to 1987.

Her personal trajectory may only be surpassed by the space flights she helped astronauts achieve.

“With a slide rule and an astounding mastery of analytic geometry, Katherine Johnson broke race and gender barriers simultaneously,” said Diana Sole Walko, CEO of MotionMasters. “This woman was perhaps the first STEM trendsetter. Her skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics may have defined her career, but her quiet accomplishments and many honors and awards define her as the best kind of West Virginian — proud but not prideful and completely committed to the work at hand.”

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