The diversity of Nasas workforce in 1940s Virginia is uncovered in a new book by Margot Lee Shetterly. She recalls how a visit to her home town led to a revelation
Mrs Land worked as a computer out at Langley, my father said, taking a right turn out of the parking lot of the First Baptist church in Hampton, Virginia. My husband and I visited my parents just after Christmas in 2010, enjoying a few days away from our full-time life and work in Mexico.
They squired us around town in their 20-year-old green minivan, my father driving, my mother in the front passenger seat, Aran and I buckled in behind like siblings. My father, gregarious as always, offered a stream of commentary that shifted fluidly from updates on the friends and neighbours wed bumped into around town to the weather forecast to elaborate discourses on the physics underlying his latest research as a 66-year-old doctoral student at Hampton University.
He enjoyed touring my Maine-born-and-raised husband through our neck of the woods and refreshing my connection with local life and history in the process.
As a callow 18-year-old leaving for college, Id seen my home town as a mere launching pad for a life in worldlier locales, a place to be from rather than a place to be. But years and miles away from home could never attenuate the citys hold on my identity and the more I explored places and people far from Hampton, the more my status as one of its daughters came to mean to me. That day after church, we spent a long while catching up with the formidable Mrs Land, who had been one of my favourite Sunday school teachers. Kathaleen Land, a retired Nasa mathematician, still lived on her own well into her 90s and never missed a Sunday at church.
Hidden Figures, the hit film that tells the story of three black women who helped NASA send a man into orbit, has been praised for putting women of color in the spotlight.
Thats why people across the country teens, teachers and community leaders are raising money through GoFundMe to ensure young girls can see the movie.
One of those people is Taylor Richardson, a 13-year-old aspiring astronaut from Florida, who wants to send 100 girls to see Hidden Figures at a theater in Jacksonville, Florida. She also wants to raise money on GoFundMe for the girls to have snacks and get a copy of the Hidden Figures book.
Richardson first saw the movie at a screening at the White House and has since seen it three more times. She said the film was amazing.
I cried, I laughed, I got angry and then got determined to not let others impressions of me because of the color of my skin impact how my life will be, she told The Huffington Post. These black women did something I never knew about, and its not in any history books that Ive studied thus far.
As of Friday, Richardson has raised $2,540 of her $2,600 goal. She found the girls she plans to take to see the film from organizations that have impacted her life like the YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, See The Girl and Journey Into Womanhood. She wants them to go home after the movie feeling as inspired as she did.
This movie instills that us girls can dream big and make it even when odds are against us, she said. Most importantly I want girls to know that, like boys, they too can excel in STEM with hard work.
Several teachers across the country have also started GoFundMe campaigns to help send their students to see the influential film. After reaching his goal of $1,000, Peter Modlin will be taking girls in second, third, fourth and fifth grade who attend the Baltimore elementary school where he teaches. Modlin told HuffPost he hopes the students learn to dream big after watching the movie.
I want the girls to see this movie in hopes that a lightbulb might go off, he said. A lightbulb that signifies a belief in the opportunity to do or be anything they want to be, if they work hard to achieve that goal.
Like Richardson and Modlin, Phyllis Marshall raised money on GoFundMe so local girls could see Hidden Figures, and has since taken them to see it.
On Jan. 7, she took 50 girls from Roberts Family Development Center in Sacramento, California, to the theater.Shes worked with the center, which is in a low-income community and provides after-school care, for years.Through GoFundMe she raised more than her $1,500 goal, which provided transportation, snacks and tickets to the movie. Marshall said they loved it.
Marshall was glad to be able to show the girls that women can succeed in science, technology and mathematics. She was especially thrilled to show them that women of color and their success deserve a place on the big screen.
I certainly hope as many young girls get to see that movie as possible.
Other teachers and community leaders are raising money for kids to see Hidden Figures, too.Check out their campaigns below.