An Education for All: Teacher Educated Her Hampton Students `for Eternity’

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-02-02 02:30Z by Steven

An Education for All: Teacher Educated Her Hampton Students `for Eternity’

The Daily Press
Norfolk, Virginia

Felice Belman

Mary S. Peake

HAMPTONMary S. Peake was so devoted to her students that she taught them even when it was illegal to do so.

She was so dedicated to education that, even after the city of Hampton was burned by Confederate rebels, she started a school for ex-slaves at Fort Monroe.

And she was so concerned about her work that in February 1862 – so weak from tuberculosis that she couldn’t stand – Peake gathered her students round her bedside and taught lessons between violent spasms of coughing. She died the next day.

”It’s important to remember Mary S. Peake because she taught the prominent people of her time,” said Debbie Lee Bryant, a genealogist and historian in Hampton. ”It’s important to remember her because she was the first black missionary teacher, and because her school was the forerunner to what’s now known as Hampton University.”

Peake’s contemporaries were equally admiring.

”Mrs. Peake was a remarkable person as to disposition, talents and piety,” said an unsigned article in an 1862 edition of the ”American Missionary” magazine, the journal of the American Missionary Association.

”She devoted unreservedly to the elevation of her own race,” the article said.

Mary S. Peake was a free black woman when most Southern blacks were slaves. She taught black children in Hampton and, in 1861, opened a school, marking the beginning of general education for blacks in the South. The founders of Hampton Institute, now called Hampton University, were inspired by Peake’s example.

Peake was the first teacher of blacks in any territory liberated by the Federal Army and the founder of the first school for blacks after the war began.

Born Mary Smith Kelsey, Peake was the daughter of a free black woman and a white Englishman. She was sent away to school in Alexandria but returned home to Norfolk at the age of 16, after Congress shut down schools for blacks in the Washington area. A studious girl, she turned most frequently to the Bible, according to a biography written by her contemporary, the Rev. Lewis C. Lockwood…

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Virginia Officials, Hidden Figures Author Join NASA in Honoring Legacy of Famed Mathematician; Live on NASA Television

Posted in Articles, Live Events, Media Archive, United States, Virginia, Women on 2017-09-22 15:48Z by Steven

Virginia Officials, Hidden Figures Author Join NASA in Honoring Legacy of Famed Mathematician; Live on NASA Television

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Langley
Media Advisory M17-105

Karen Northon
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Mike Finneran
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia


The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Credits: NASA

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and author Margot Lee Shetterly are among the dignitaries honoring Katherine Johnson, former NASA employee and central character of the book and movie Hidden Figures, at 1 p.m. [EDT] Sept. 22 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

They will join Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck and Langley Center Director David Bowles in cutting the ribbon to officially open the center’s new Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, a state-of-the-art lab for innovative research and development supporting NASA’s exploration missions.

The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Media wishing to attend must contact Michael Finneran of the Langley communications office at 757-864-6110 or

Johnson, 99, will attend and participate in photo opportunities, but will not be available for interviews. A prerecorded message from her will be aired during the ceremony and a statement will be read.

Johnson was a “human computer” at Langley who calculated trajectories for America’s first spaceflights in the 1960s. The retired mathematician was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2015. Her contributions and those of other NASA African-American human computers are chronicled in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, based on Lee-Shetterly’s book of the same name. She worked at Langley from 1953 until she retired in 1986.

For more about Johnson, visit:

The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility (CRF) is a $23-million, 37,000-square-foot, energy efficient structure that consolidates five Langley data centers and more than 30 server rooms. The facility will enhance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data, and analysis. Much of the work now done by wind tunnels eventually will be performed by computers like those at the CRF.

For more information about Langley Research Center, visit:

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