‘Hidden Figures’ Author to Speak Feb. 3 at CWR

CLEVELAND, Ohio – With the upcoming release of a film based on her book chronicling the role black female mathematicians played in the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly has been announced as the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at Case Western Reserve University.

The presentation, free and open to the public, will take place at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Case Western’s Tinkham Veale University Center. A book signing and reception will be held afterward.

As part of her speech, Shetterly will touch on issues of race, gender and innovation, detailing the “often-unheralded contributions of women and minorities to American innovation.”

Shetterly’s book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, was released in September. A movie based on the book, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janella Monae, Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner, will be released nationwide Jan. 6.

The two works follow the lives of NASA’s four “human computers” – Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden – who worked for the agency calculating flight paths for rockets using paper and pencil, all while segregated from their white colleagues because of Jim Crow laws.

“The fact that the word ‘hidden’ is there is part of the issue; these are unsung heroes,” said Case Western’s Vice President of the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Marilyn Sanders Mobley in a release. “I love the way it expands the national narrative, to say, no, there was a lot of collaboration across racial lines, that there were other people contributing in a major way to such an important national endeavor—and in a STEM field.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at Case Western is an annual event that celebrates the civil rights leader’s legacy with activities ranging from workshops to film screenings to panel discussions.

Registration for the event can be done here.

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