Joylette Goble is the daughter of famous mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose story was featured in the blockbuster film Hidden Figures. Johnson’s contributions to NASA and mathematics were extraordinary, and her daughters’ lives are inextricably linked to her illustrious legacy.
Johnson was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and completed high school at the age of 14. Her exceptional mathematical talents led her to graduate summa cum laude from West Virginia State College with degrees in mathematics and French. She then went on to teach at a number of schools before returning to WVU for her graduate studies. There, she was one of the university’s first black students.
Once she earned her doctorate, she began working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which would later become NASA, at Langley Field in Virginia. Initially hired as a “human computer,” Johnson quickly rose through the ranks and became one of the Flight Research team’s first Black section heads. She was responsible for double-checking the numbers on the electronic computers used to calculate trajectories for historic space missions, including astronaut John Glenn’s Friendship 7 orbital flight.
Throughout her life, Johnson was passionate about education and inspiring young people to pursue careers in STEM fields. Her daughters, Katherine Goble Moore and Joylette Goble Hylick, are continuing to uphold her legacy by speaking to students about their mother’s remarkable accomplishments and their journeys as mathematicians and authors. In addition, they are working on a memoir, One Step Further, that will be published in 2022.