Friday, February 22, 2019

NASA Renames Facility in Honor of 'Hidden Figure' Katherine Johnson

NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA "hidden figure."
"I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "It's a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor."
President Donald Trump signed into law in December an act of Congress calling for the redesignation. The facility's program contributes to the safety and success of NASA's highest-profile missions by assuring that mission software performs correctly. IV&V now is in the process of planning a rededication ceremony.
"It's an honor the NASA IV&V Program's primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson's name," said NASA IV&V Program Director Gregory Blaney. "It's a way for us to recognize Katherine's career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year."
Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson's intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn's Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.
At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- who was later promoted to engineer -- broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency's workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film "Hidden Figures," based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  
Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and, in 2017, NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginiadedicated the new Katherine Jonson Computational Research Facility in her honor. Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26.
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NASA's IV&V Program has performed work on approximately 100 missions and projects, including: the Space Shuttle ProgramHubble Space TelescopeCassiniMars Science LaboratoryMagnetosphere MultiScaleGlobal Precipitation Measurement and, most recently, the InSight Mars Lander. The IV&V Program currently is providing services to 12 upcoming NASA missions, including the James Webb Space TelescopeOrion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the Space Launch System. It also provides general software safety and mission assurance services, including support for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
For information about the Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility, visit:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Barack Obama and Stephen Curry tell minority boys 'you matter'

On the fifth anniversary of his My Brother's Keeper Initiative President Obama joined a town hall with Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and young men of color. The young men took the opportunity to ask questions about his upbringing, his advice and what he sees as necessary for young people to thrive in America. Obama and Stephen Curry told the roomful of minority boys on Tuesday that they matter and urged them to make the world a better place.

Watch Obama and Curry speak to the young boys below:

2019 American Black Film Festival to be held in Miami Beach June 12–16

The 23rd annual American Black Film Festival will be held in Miami Beach June 12–16, 2019. Learn more, get passes and tickets here: 
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to empowering black artists and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Committed to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black filmmaking community by encouraging resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. He ultimately envisioned it as a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood.
For more than two decades the festival has been a platform for emerging black artists — premiering the early work and showcasing the talent of many of today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians — including Halle Berry (Monsters Ball), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). ABFF is the pre-eminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in entertainment.
As “the nation’s largest gathering of black film and television enthusiasts” the festival attracts a broad audience of A-list talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people travel to Miami Beach each year for the event. The five-day festival opens with the premiere of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.
The ABFF’s dynamic programming continues to evolve. In recent years, it has extended beyond the inclusion of television-related content to launch the Business of Entertainment seminar series co-programmed with leading media and technology companies.
In 2017, the ABFF launched its Greenlighters Academy, a pipeline program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities with an interest in pursuing corporate careers in film, television and entertainment media. The 2019 festival will introduce About Women, a global initiative focused on empowering and inspiring women of color in the film and television industry. ABFF will also unveil a new section showcasing films based on cause-related topics impacting communities of color.
The American Black Film Festival is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV), a multifaceted entertainment company specializing in the production of live events, television and film focused on African American culture. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the company is a joint venture of Film Life Inc. and Black Enterprise, two prominent media and event companies, each with legacies of showcasing the best of African American culture and achievement.

Kamala Harris frustrated and disappointed by Jussie Smollet's staged attack

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) originally condemned the attack on Jussie Smollet when it was first reported, going as far as calling it a "modern day lynching." Harris said Thursday that she is "sad, frustrated, and disappointed" over the allegation that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack he reported as a hate crime. Read her full statement below:

Elijah Cummings announces the rescheduling of Michael Cohen’s public testimony for next week

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the Committee has rescheduled its public hearing with President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 27, 2019, in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building:

“I am pleased to announce that Michael Cohen’s public testimony before the Oversight Committee is back on, despite efforts by some to intimidate his family members and prevent him from appearing. Congress has an obligation under the Constitution to conduct independent and robust oversight of the Executive Branch, and this hearing is one step in that process.”