'Hidden Figures' Tells The Story Of Black Women Who Helped The Space Race

Nov 10, 2016

Margot Lee Shetterly's new book 'Hidden Figures' tells the story of the black women who worked for NASA during the height of the space race
Credit Aran Shetterly

From the 1940s through the 1960s, a group of elite black women mathematicians known as "human computers" helped NASA put rockets, and eventually astronauts, into space. The women began working with federal aeronautical agencies at the Langley Research Laboratory during World War II, computing endless sets of data while enduring racial segregation and discrimination of the Jim Crow South. 

In her new book, "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" (William Morrow/2016), author Margot Lee Shetterly tells the little known story of the African-American women who helped with some of NASA's greatest accomplishments.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Shetterly about the racial climate of NASA during the space race and Shetterly's own experience growing up around scientists and engineers of color. Shetterly talks tonight at 7 p.m. at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.