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Quotations (18)

Hidden Figures

the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
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pg 170; "Eighty percent of the world's population is colored" the NACA's chief legal council Paul Dembling had written in a 1956 file memo. "In trying to provide leadership in world events, it is necessary for this country to indicate to…
The speed of sound, about 761 miles per hour at sea level in dry air at 59 degrees Fahrenheit, varied depending on temperature, altitude, and humidity. It was long thought to be a physical limit on the maximum speed of an object moving…
Their designations reflected their use: fighters—also called pursuit planes—were assigned letters F or P: for example, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair or the North American P-51 Mustang. The letter C identified a cargo plane like the Douglas…
There were black jobs, and there were good black jobs. Sorting in the laundry, making beds in white folks’ houses, stemming in the tobacco plant—those were black jobs. Owning a barbershop or a funeral home, working in the post office, or…
Of course, while moving the air over the object was similar to flying through the air, it wasn’t identical, so one of the first concepts Dorothy had to master was the Reynolds number, a bit of mathematical jujitsu that measured how closely…
“Tu m’entends tout, n’est-ce pas?” the countess inquired, seeing the reserved Negro maid paying close attention to her every bon mot. Katherine nodded sheepishly. === “Katherine should finish the report,” Skopinski said to Pearson. “She’s…
Being part of a Black First was a powerful symbol, she knew just as well as anyone, and she embraced her son’s achievement with delight. But she also knew that the best thing about breaking a barrier was that it would never have to be…
The early 1960s were an inflection point in the history of computing, a dividing line between the time when computers were human and when they were inanimate, when a computing job was handed off to a room full of women sitting at desks…
Sending a man into space was a damn tall order, but it was the part about returning him safely to Earth that kept Katherine Johnson and the rest of the space pilgrims awake at night. === As the rocket blasted from the launchpad and…
“Get the girl to check the numbers,” said the astronaut. If she says the numbers are good, he told them, I’m ready to go. === The space age and television were coming into their own at the same time. NASA was acutely aware that the task…
Two vehicles and 238,900 miles: three days there and three days back. Twenty-one hours on the surface of the Moon for two astronauts in the lunar lander, while the service module circled the heavenly body in a parking orbit. Katherine knew…
In fact, the unprecedented episode they witnessed on that Saturday night they shared with a total of six hundred million people around the world: all standing in front of the same window, all observing the same thing at the same…
Those well-heeled people had all responded to something in the young bespectacled woman, something that gave them the feeling that she had a great future. Who among them would have ever imagined, however, that Katherine’s future, and their…
There’s something about this story that seems to resonate with people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, and backgrounds. It’s a story of hope, that even among some of our country’s harshest realities—legalized segregation, racial…
“Rockets, moon shots, spend it on the have-nots,” Marvin Gaye sang in his 1971 anthem “Inner City Blues,” addressing the quagmire that was Vietnam, an economy beset by inflation, and most of all, the isolation, anger, and economic despair…
Mary Jackson managed to surf Langley’s turmoil even as the sections, branches, and divisions around her recombined with greater frequency, the work groups at the bottom of the organization chart transforming like shards in a great NASA…
The cruelty of racial prejudice was so often accompanied by absurdity, a tangle of arbitrary rules and distinctions that subverted the shared interests of people who had been taught to see themselves as irreconcilably different.
Unless an engineer was given a compelling reason to evaluate a woman as a peer, she remained in his blind spot, her usefulness measured against the limited task at hand, any additional talents undiscovered