Thursday, April 7, 2016

"HIDDEN FIGURES" MOVIE ON THE BLACK " HUMAN COMPUTERS" OF NASA


The movie "Hidden Figures," will be based on a book of the same name that's due out next year. It is about three unsung heroes,  a group of Black American Female math wizards, sometimes referred to as "human computers," who helped NASA win the space race in the early 1960s.
The story follows Katherine Jackson, Mary Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughn, the three women who served as the brains behind NASA’s Friendship 7 mission, which saw astronaut John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth in February 1962.
Pop star Janelle Monae has landed the third lead alongside Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer ... Ted Melfi is directing the movie and producing with Chernin Entertainment and Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films...
Read More 
  http://www.thewrap.com/janelle-monae-joins-taraji-p-henson-octavia-spencer-in-fox-2000s-hidden-figures-exclusive/
Henson stars as Katherine Johnson, MonĂ¡e as Mary Jackson, and Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan. 
I don't know whether to say "Yippee! I can't wait to see it!" or "How dare they not teach us about these women in school!"  Then again, I can't say I've read about these women in black history book either.

I'm so grateful that more black women like Margot Lee Shetterly are searching out and writing other black women down-- just like Alice Walker for Zora Neale Hurston. Or didn't you know that most of us might not know who Zora Neale Hurston is if it weren't for

1) Zora writing about herself.
2)Alice Walker researching her and bringing her back into the public eye.

I'm also grateful that black women back in the day had sense enough to write their own memoirs. I'm realizing more and more that this is where most of black female history is located.

If you get to read the book due out in the Fall of 2016 or get to see the movie, I hope some of you can appreciated taht in 1962 THE MATHEMATICIANS WERE THE COMPUTERS.

The mathematician's brains of NASA were the computers. I don't know what NASA had in 1962 but compared to now I'll bet they mechanical computers they had were glorified calculators. These women didn't just create calculations that enabled rockets to take off, go where no man has gone before, and come back. They were called on to check to see if the computer was correct. If these women had failed to do their calculations correctly, failed to time the re-entry into the atmosphere correctly, John Glenn would have been a crispy critter instead a famous astronaut.

To tell the truth, I am absolutely proud and somewhat flabbergasted that NASA hired and trusted people that were both black and female to do this work for them. For me, this just goes to show that a lot of white racism are lies to secure power and money. If most white people in 1960s thought black people were inferior (as so much as white science proved) they never would have hired these black women from Historical Black Colleges and Univerities (HBCUs). Most of white racism is rational decision making surrounding the accumulation and retention of power and money, not misunderstanding. If white people believed deeply in black inferiority, black bad morality etc.,
even pre- white science, white people wouldn't have trusted black women to nurse their children or send their white men into outer space. 
Based on the interview below, I'm thinking "Hidden Figures," the movie, should be awesome.

I do hope they rename it, however.


A LITTLE HISTORY ON EACH WOMAN
(and a video)
DOROTHY VAUGHN
Born in 1910, Dorothy Vaughan came to the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1943, during the height of World War II, leaving her position as the math teacher at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, VA to take what she believed would be a temporary war job. 

Two years after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 into law, prohibiting racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the country's defense industry, the laboratory began hiring black women to meet the skyrocketing demand for processing aeronautical research data. Urgency and twenty-four hour shifts prevailed-- as did Jim Crow laws which required newly-hired "colored" mathematicians to work separately from their white female counterparts. Dorothy Vaughan, [another HBCU graduate,] was assigned to the segregated "West Area Computing" unit, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities. Over time, both individually and as a group, the West Computers distinguished themselves with contributions to virtually every area of research at Langley.
http://thehumancomputerproject.com/women/dorothy-vaughan

MARY JACKSON
 Born in 1921, Mary was a champion for her race, other minorities, and women. She suffered many indignities while holding steadfast to her personal attributes and compassion for others. Mary grew up in Hampton, Virginia, graduating with highest honors from high school and received her Bachelor of Science degrees from [another HBCU, Hampton Institute in Mathematics and Physical Science. After graduation from college, Mary was a school teacher in Maryland for awhile, then began her long career with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), later National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.   Read More: http://crgis.ndc.nasa.gov/crgis/images/4/4a/MaryJackson.pdf

  KATHERINE JOHNSON                                     
Born in 1918 in the little town of White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, this HBCU graduate was a research mathematician, who by her own admission, was simply fascinated by numbers. Fascinated by numbers and smart to boot, for by the time she was 10 years old, she was a high school freshman--a truly amazing feat in an era when school for African-Americans normally stopped at eighth grade for those could indulge in that luxury.
Read More or just watch the interview of Katherine Johnson

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/katherine-johnson-the-girl-who-loved-to-count/