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Sioux Falls Feminists endorse The Hidden Figures for
the superiority of black women over the
racist white males computing for NASA.

Hidden Figures
Based on the untold true story

Hidden Figures (2016) - 127 minutes
Hidden Figures  at

Hidden Figures tells the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn, a stunning achievement that turned around the Space Race. The visionary trio crossed all gender and racial lines and inspired generations.

2-28-20 The ‘hidden figure’ who put astronauts in space
Katherine Johnson liked to say that she joined the space program when “computers wore skirts.” She was one of several hundred women who performed complex calculations for NASA’s engineers—who, unlike Johnson, were white and male—using little more than slide rules and pencils. Possessing a fine mathematical mind, Johnson became the first black member of the agency’s elite Flight Research Division. There, she calculated the trajectory for the 1961 rocket launch that made Alan Shepard the first American in space, and the following year helped John Glenn become the first American to orbit Earth. In 1969, her math got Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back. Yet Johnson’s contributions went largely unheralded until her story and that of other black “computers” was told in the hit 2016 movie Hidden Figures. She seemed indifferent to the overdue attention. “I was just doing my job,” Johnson said in 2017. “They needed information, and I had it.” She entered West Virginia State the next year, but after graduating found there were few opportunities “for black female teenage mathematicians,” said The New York Times. She worked as a schoolteacher until 1952, when she heard that Langley Research Center in Virginia—then run by NASA’s predecessor agency—was hiring black female “computers.” Johnson and her black colleagues were told to use separate offices and bathrooms “from their white counterparts, until the birth of NASA in 1958,” said The Guardian (U.K.). Despite such racist policies, Johnson thrived at the research facility and became a vital part of its operation. Glenn refused to fly his 1962 mission until Johnson verified a trajectory produced by an electronic computer. “If she says they’re good,” he said, “then I’m ready to go.” Johnson would spend 33 years at Langley, and in 2015 was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Her formulas are still in use today. “If we go back to the moon, or to Mars,” said NASA’s chief historian, Bill Barry, “we’ll be using her math.”

2-25-20 NASA icon Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101
The African-American researcher helped break barriers for minorities and women in science. An inspirational “Hidden Figure” and a key player in sending the first humans to the moon, mathematician Katherine Johnson died February 24 at the age of 101. Born in West Virginia in 1918, her aptitude for math was evident at an early age. In 1953, she took a job at NASA’s predecessor NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. There, she joined a group of other African-American women known as “computers” who performed calculations for the space program before electronic computers went mainstream. During the Space Race era, Johnson performed essential calculations of flight trajectories, including the 1961 flight of the first American in space, Alan Shepard. Famously, at the personal request of astronaut John Glenn, she checked by hand the calculations for his 1962 orbit of Earth, although NASA had begun using electronic computers by then. “If she says they’re good,’” Glenn reportedly said, “then I’m ready to go.” Unlike the astronauts whose flight paths she calculated, Johnson worked in relative obscurity. But that changed after a 2016 book and film, both titled Hidden Figures, profiled Johnson and other black women at NASA (SN: 12/23/16). Almost overnight, Johnson became a household name and a celebrated figure of science. Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, had NASA buildings named after her and even had a LEGO figure created in her likeness.

2-24-20 Katherine Johnson: Hidden Figures Nasa mathematician dies at 101
Pioneering African-American Nasa mathematician Katherine Johnson has died at the age of 101. Nasa announced her death on Twitter, saying it was celebrating her life and honouring "her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers". Ms Johnson calculated rocket trajectories and Earth orbits for Nasa's early space missions. She was portrayed in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. The film tells the story of African-American women whose maths skills helped put US astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the Earth in 1962. Ms Johnson verified the calculations made by new electronic computers before his flight. Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine described Ms Johnson as "a leader from our pioneering days". "Ms Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of colour in the universal human quest to explore space," he said in a statement. "Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the Moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars." Ms Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. Then-US President Barack Obama later cited her in his State of the Union address as an example of the country's spirit of discovery. Ms Johnson was born in a small town in West Virginia in 1918 and was fascinated by numbers from a young age. "I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed…anything that could be counted, I did," she once said. She excelled academically, graduating from high school at just 14 and from university at 18. Nasa notes that her academic achievements were particularly impressive "in an era when school for African-Americans normally stopped at eighth grade for those that could indulge in that luxury". After working as a teacher and being a stay-at-home mum, Ms Johnson began working for Nasa's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (Naca), in 1953. There, she had the job title "computer" and was tasked with calculating trajectories for early US space missions. During the space race between the US and the former Soviet Union, Ms Johnson and her African-American colleagues worked in separate facilities to white workers, and used different toilets and dining areas. She always said she was too busy with her work to be concerned about being treated unequally. "My dad taught us, 'You are as good as anybody in this town, but you're no better,'" she told Nasa in 2008. "I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better."

The Hidden Figures
Based on the untold true story

Sioux Falls Feminists endorse The Hidden Figures for
showing the superiority of black women over the
racist white males computing for NASA.