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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (2nd L) appears onstage with (L-R) actors Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who was depicted in “Hidden Figures,” died Monday (Feb. 24), the administrator of NASA said. She was 101, as The Washington Post reports.

Taraji P. Henson portrayed Johnson in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures about trailblazing black women whose work at NASA was pivotal during the Space Race.

Katherine Johnson

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (2nd L) appears onstage with (L-R) actors Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer speak onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Johnson began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953, and she was classified as “subprofessional,” and likened to the ranking of a janitor.

However, her job didn’t involve cleaning but rather mathematics. Johnson used a slide rule or mechanical calculator in complex calculations to review the work of her superiors — white male engineers.

Her title was “computer,” the technology that would eventually make the services of many of her colleagues no longer needed.

Johnson later went on to develop equations that assisted the NACA and its successor, NASA, send astronauts into orbit and, to the moon. The West Virginia State College graduate (summa cum laude) codified mathematical principles that remain at the center of manned space travel.

Barack Obama and Katherine Johnson

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama presents pioneering NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom as Willie Mays and Itzhak Perlman (R) look on during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to thirteen living and four posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and arts, (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Johnson wasn’t the first black woman to work as a NASA mathematician. She wasn’t the first to write a research report for NASA either. However, Johnson was eventually recognized as a trailblazer for women and African-Americans in the newly-made field of spaceflight.

Johnson, like many members of the space program, was overshadowed by life-risking astronauts whose flights she calculated, as well as the department heads whom Johnson served.

Nevertheless, Johnson commanded mainstream attention when in 2015 former President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the country’s highest civilian honor.

Katherine Johnson

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (C) and director Ezra Edelman (R) and producer Caroline Waterlow (L), winners of Best Documentary Feature for ‘O.J.: Made in America’ pose in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The following year, Johnson’s research was celebrated in the best-selling book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and the Oscar-nominated film adaptation starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

Katherine Johnson was “critical to the success of the early U.S. space programs,” Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian, said in a 2017 interview. “She had a singular intellect, curiosity and skill set in mathematics that allowed her to make many contributions, each of which might be considered worthy of a single lifetime.”

Before becoming a “computer” at the NACA”s flight research division, Johnson worked as a schoolteacher. Johnson was said to have “counted everything” as a child — “the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed.”

Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.