Skip to content

Virginia school renamed in honor of NASA’s Katherine Johnson


A Virginia middle school was once named after a Confederate soldier and now its name will be replaced with a Black hero, reports Afro Tech.

Sidney Lanier Middle School was established more than 60 years ago and was named after an American poet who also happened to be a private in the Confederate army. Now, it will be renamed to honor NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

Johnson is known for her contributions to helping NASA put the first man on the moon and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama at age 97 in 2015.

In September 2020, the Fairfax city school board made the decision after a majority of residents called to have the name changed.

More than 300 new names for the school were submitted and the approval to rename the school was made on Nov. 2, 2020.

Other names in the running included Fairfax Woods, Legacy Independence and City, and the late great Maya Angelou.

“Her contributions continued to serve the nation and helped ensure that the ‘Eagle had landed…and landed safely,’” said city school board member Jon Buttram in November. “So, I think it appropriate that the name Katherine Johnson for our middle school will inspire new generations of ‘Eagles’ for our community, and I look forward to watching them fly.”

Katherine Johnson Middle School has been approved for the 2021-22 school year and became official in a ceremony with Johnson’s family in attendance.