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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

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Antiracism…
Thanks to Margot Lee Shetterly’s blockbuster book, the black female mathematicians whose calculations were critical to winning the space race in a still-segregated America are a hidden history no more. A crucial story that challenges our conceptions around race and gender.

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Long before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, eve before John Glenn orbited the earth, a group of dedicated and intelligent female mathematicians used pencils, slide rulers, and adding machines to calculate and verify the numbers that would help the U.S. win the space race. Among these women known as “human computers” were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, and even though they worked in a different building, they were no less skilled at what they did.

Originally math teachers from various segregated public schools in the south, these women answered NASA’s call during the labour shortages of World War II, leaving their professional teaching jobs behind to become computers. Their new place of employment? The Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia; a place where they could finally test the extremes of their skills.

However, even though they were brilliant mathematicians, Virginia’s Jim Crow laws still required them to be segregated from their white counterparts. Little did anyone know, it would be Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group that would help America achieve a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in both the Cold War and the space race.

Hidden Figures is the story of three women in “West Computing” who contributed to some of NASA’s greatest successes, their struggle in their own lives, and their influence on their country’s future.
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