In celebration of Women’s History Month, join us for a FREE screening of Hidden Figures, the award-winning feature film that chronicles the groundbreaking work of the African American women who fought racism, sexism, and Jim Crow segregation, while propelling the first Americans into space.
The film follows Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who’s flight trajectory calculations made NASA’s Mercury missions possible, Dorothy Vaughan, a skilled mathematician and NASA’s first African American manager, and Mary Jackson, NASA’s first African American female engineer and a Virginian, in their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Free and open to all. RSVP recommended.
This series is named in honor of Reverend Powell, who served on the Virginia Historical Society board for many years and who was instrumental in the development of relevant and accessible programming. He presided over the historic Gillfield Baptist Church, founded in 1788, for thirty-six years.
Created Equal is hosted by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in partnership with the Richmond Peace Education Center and supported in part by Diversity Richmond’s VHS Guy Kinman Research Award.
by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.
384 pages, softcover, ISBN 978-0062677280, Harper Collins Publishing, 2017.
by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…reallygood.
They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as "colored computers," and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
40 pages, Hardcover, ISBN 978-0062742469, Harper Collins Publishing, 2018.