Annie Easley was born April 23, 1933, in Birmingham, Alabama. She was born to Bud McCory and Willie Sims. Her mother often encouraged her by telling her that she could be whatever she wanted to be but that she would have to work extra hard for it. Heeding her mother’s advice, Easley worked diligently.
Easley attended Holy Family High School from the fifth grade through her senior year of high school. She graduated valedictorian of her class. After graduating high school, she enrolled in courses at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She then attended an all-Black Roman Catholic University. There, she studied pharmaceutics.
After studying pharmaceutics for two years, Easley returned to Birmingham in 1954. In the Jim Crow South, Black voters were forced to take a literacy test and pay poll taxes. Because of her educational background (specifically, Xavier University), she was able to bypass the literacy test and merely pay the poll tax. She then assisted other Black voters in prepping for the literacy test.
Shortly after returning to Birmingham, Easley married and moved to Cleveland. While living in Cleveland, she read an article in a local newspaper that praised two sisters who had worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She immediately applied for a job with the organization and was hired shortly thereafter.
Easley began working for NACA (the predecessor of NASA) as a mathematician and computer engineer. While working for NACA, she earned her Bachelor of Science and Mathematics from Cleveland State University in 1977. She also simultaneously completed courses that were specifically offered to NASA employees.
While working for NASA, Easley developed computer codes that analyzed data from solar wind and energy projects, supported the Centaur high-energy upper rocket (precursor to the shuttle program), and determined resolutions to many energy problems. She created several computer applications that assisted in advance scientific studies. She later retired between 1989 and 1991.
During her retirement, Easley was often interviewed about her contributions to NASA. She used her platform to bring attention to the Civil Rights Movement and to the contributions that women made to space exploration. Annie Easley died on June 25, 2011. She was 78 years old.
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