the book that inspired the movie: ‘hidden figures’, a vital piece of history

February 6, 2017

The movie “Hidden Figures” is making its rounds this award season, racking up trophy after well deserved trophy. But there’s another element to this story that’s being all but overlooked, and that element is the book from which the screenplay came. “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly inspired Theodore Melfi to make the movie, but the book itself is filled with the intricacies and details that movies sometimes leave out. Shetterly is an independent scholar and daughter of a NASA scientist, as well as a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award. She’s currently working at The Human Computer Project, archiving the work of the women who changed the world. The book as described by the author herself is what happened “Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.” The story is about “a group of professionals [who] worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements . Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘colored computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of four courageous women whose work forever changed the world.” Be sure to grab the book available now!

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor

Photo by Aran Shetterly, Courtesy of Author Margot Lee Shetterly