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♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪ >>> HELLO.

THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE TODAY.

I'M CAROL JENKINS.

THE PROGRAM IS "BLACK AMERICA.

" AND TODAY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HUMAN COMPUTERS.

SPECIFICALLY BLACK WOMEN MATHEMATICIANS WHO HELPED PUT MEN INTO SPACE AND ON THE MOON.

WITH US, IS MARGOT SHETTERLY WHO HAS WRITTEN THE STARTLING REAL LIFE STORIES OF THESE INVISABLE WOMEN IN HER BREATHTAKING BOOK CALLED "HIDDEN FIGURES.

" THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US, MARGOT.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME ON.

>> IT'S STARTLING BECAUSE THEY WERE IN PLAIN SIGHT, BUT TOTALLY INVISIBLE TO THE WORLD.

THESE WOMEN MATHEMATICIANS WHO DID THE CALCULATIONS THAT MADE SPACE FLIGHT POSSIBLE.

>> YEAH, I WOULD SAY THEY'RE HIDDEN, THAT'S THE TITLE OF THE BOOK.

YES, IN PLAIN VIEW.

I'M FROM HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, AND I CAME TO THE STORY BECAUSE MY FATHER WORKED AT NASA LANGLEY IN HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, AS A RESEARCH SCIENTIST.

AND SO GROWING UP THERE IN HAMPTON, MANY PEOPLE WORKED AT NASA.

AND I KNEW AS MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY, MANY OF THESE WOMEN THAT I WRITE ABOUT IN THE BOOK.

SO, YOU KNOW, THEY WERE OUR NEIGHBORS.

THEY WERE GIRL SCOUT TROOP LEADERS, THEY WERE PEOPLE WE SAW IN THE GROCERY STORE.

MAYBE CHILDREN WHO WENT TO SCHOOL WITH ME.

IT WASN'T UNTIL MUCH LATER THAT I REALIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORK THEY DO.

>> YEAH.

THESE ARE BRILLIANT WOMEN WHO, YOU KNOW, WENT TO WORK EVERY DAY DOING EXTRAORDINARY CALCULATIONS AND THEN WENT HOME AND COOKED DINNER AND DID EVERYTHING JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> LIVED NORMAL LIVES IN THIS EXTRAORDINARY MATRIX OF THE SPACE RACE.

I ALWAYS START BY ASKING THE GUEST TO PLACE THEMSELVES IN BLACK AMERICA, SO WE KNOW ABOUT HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, YOUR DAD WAS A SCIENTIST AND WHAT I LOVE ABOUT ONE OF YOUR QUOTES WAS THAT THE "FACE OF SCIENCE WAS BROWN" LIKE YOURS IN HAMPTON.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT.

>> YEAH.

WELL, YOU KNOW, HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, IS ABOUT 3 1/2 HOURS DRIVE FROM WASHINGTON, D.

C.

HAMPTON, NORFOLK, NEWPORT NEWS, ALL OF THESE CITIES, YOU KNOW, WERE VERY INVESTED IN THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES.

WORLD WAR I, WORLD WAR II, WHERE MY STORY STARTS AND OVER THE YEARS DURING THOSE PERIODS OF NATIONAL CONFLICT HAVE DRAWN PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER AND DURING THOSE TIMES THEY REALLY WANTED PEOPLE WITH TECHNICAL SKILLS.

SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, MATHEMATICIANS, TECHNICIANS.

WORKING IN THE SHIPYARDS, WORKING AT NASA.

SO A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT I GREW UP WITH, YOU KNOW, AS A SUBSET OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE AFRICAN-AMERICAN, BLACK ENGINEERS, BLACK SCIENTISTS, BLACK MATHEMATICIANS, BLACK TECHNICIANS, MANY OF THEM IN MY OWN FAMILY INCLUDING MY OWN FATHER.

SO I HAD A VERY CLOSE-UP VIEW OF PEOPLE DOING THAT KIND OF WORK WHO WERE BLACK AND IT WAS OF COURSE THE MOST NORMAL THING IN THE WORLD TO ME.

>> YOU SPENT TIME WITH YOUR DAD AT HIS WORK.

YOU DESCRIBE HIS LIFE AS METHODICALLY GOING INTO THOSE LABS, CREATING THINGS AND, YOU KNOW, THEN JUST BEING A DAD.

AND YOU WENT WITH HIM.

IT TURNS OUT YOU DIDN'T COME OUT A SCIENTIST OR MATHEMATICIAN, BUT ULTIMATELY WERE INFLUENCED BY THAT EXPOSURE.

>> RIGHT.

IT REALLY HELPS TO SEE HIM GOING TO WORK EVERY DAY TO SEE THE WORK HE DID, THE WORK THAT HE REALLY LOVED.

YOU KNOW? HE'S VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT SCIENCE AND MATH -- AND TO SEE THERE IN HIS WORKPLACE, THE OTHER WOMEN, THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN, THERE WERE WHITE WOMEN, WOMEN OF ALL BACKGROUNDS SO I GOT A CHANCE TO SEE THAT BASICALLY ANYONE, YOU KNOW, MAYBE THERE WAS A WHITE MAN OR A BLACK MAN, A WHITE WOMAN, YOU KNOW, A BLACK WOMAN ALL OF THESE PEOPLE COULD BE SCIENTISTS.

THAT IS A GREAT THING TO SEE AS A VERY YOUNG PERSON.

>> RIGHT.

WE'LL GET TO THE STORIES OF SOME OF THESE REMARKABLE WOMEN, BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT -- MORE ABOUT YOU.

BECAUSE I KNOW YOU LIVED IN MEXICO.

YOU'RE FRIENDS OF MY DAUGHTER, YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, AND I REMEMBER WHEN YOU WENT TO MEXICO I KEPT ASKING HER, WHEN ARE THEY COMING BACK, WHAT ARE THEY DOING THERE? SO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT.

>> WELL, FROM 2005, MY HUSBAND AARON SHETTERLY WE MOVED THERE TO START AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE MAGAZINE CALLED INSIDE MEXICO.

THERE'S AN EXTREMELY LARGE AMERICAN AND CANADIAN EXPAT POPULATION OF RETIREES OF PEOPLE WHO WOULD OTHERWISE GO TO FLORIDA AND WHO DECIDED TO GO TO MEXICO.

SO WE WENT DOWN THERE TO START THAT BUSINESS , KIND OF INTREPID ENTREPRENEURS AROUND WE LIVED IN MEXICO FOR A TOTAL OF 11 YEARS.

WE HAVE ONLY RECENTLY COME BACK TO THE UNITED STATES.

I THINK HAVING THAT DISTANCE FROM MY OWN COUNTRY AND MY OWN CULTURE AND LIVING IN A DIFFERENT PLACE AND LEARNING ANOTHER CULTURE, I THINK THAT REALLY DID GIVE ME ENOUGH SPACE.

THE RIGHT SPACE TO BE ABLE TO LOOK AT WHAT I WAS -- WHERE I WAS FROM AND APPRECIATE IT AND LOOK AT MY COUNTRY AND APPRECIATE IT.

AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT HAVING THAT SPACE REALLY DID IN MANY WAYS CONTRIBUTE TO MY ABILITY TO WRITE THIS BOOK AT THIS TIME.

>> SO NOW LET'S LAUNCH INTO THE STORIES OF THE REMARKABLE WOMEN WITH THE HIDDEN FIGURES SO TO SPEAK.

I KEEP SAYING HIDDEN LIVES I THINK OF THE WOMEN, BUT IT'S A NUMBERS STORIES WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

SO YOU'RE ON A VISIT BACK HOME.

WITH AARON.

AND SO TELL US HOW THIS ALL CAME ABOUT.

>> SURE.

THIS WAS IN 2010, DECEMBER.

AND WE WERE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

AND VISITING MY PARENTS AND HAD ACTUALLY GONE AND SEEN ONE OF MY FORMER SUNDAY SCHOOLTEACHERS.

A LADY NAMED MRS.

KATHLEEN LAND, SHE SINCE PASSED WAY.

SHE WAS 96 WHEN SHE PASSED AWAY.

MY DAD WAS TALKING ABOUT THE WORK SHE HAD DONE AT NASA, LANGLEY, WHERE HE HAD WORKED AS A HUMAN COMPUTER, AND THE CONVERSATION SORTS OF ROLLED INTO DISCUSSION OF THE OTHER WOMEN HE HAD KNOWN INCLUDING KATHERINE JOHNSON, AND HOW SHE HAD CALCULATED THE LAUNCH WINDOW FOR THE ASTRONAUTS.

MY HUSBAND, AARON, WAS LIKE WAIT A MINUTE.

>> EXACTLY.

>> I HAD NEVER HEARD THIS STORY, THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

YOU KNOW, WHY DON'T WE KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS? AND IT WAS A MOMENT FOR ME.

HE IMMEDIATELY WAS LIKE, THIS IS INCREDIBLE.

AND FOR ME, YOU KNOW, HAVING SORT OF KNOWN A LOT OF THIS THOUGH PROBABLY -- >> TAKEN SOMEWHAT FOR GRANTED.

>> TAKEN IT FOR GRANTED AND NOT KNOWING AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT I KNEW ABOUT IT AND IT WAS LIKE, WOW, THIS IS AN AMAZING STORY.

SO IT REALLY STARTED WITH THAT FIRST CONVERSATION WITH MRS.

LAND AND WENT ON AN INTERVIEW WHICH ENDED UP BEING SEVEN INTERVIEWS WITH KATHERINE JOHNSON WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO MENTION TO ME THE NAME DOROTHY VAUGHAN WHO WAS THE HEAD OF THE SEGREGATED BLACK FEMALE COMPUTING UNIT.

AND FROM THERE, IT WAS SORT OF LIKE TRACKING DOWN A MYSTERY.

LIKE TRYING TO FIND THESE WOMEN.

AND THEIR PLACE IN HISTORY.

>> SO THE STORY IS THAT HERE ARE THESE BLACK WOMEN MATHEMATICIANS, KATHERINE JOHNSON WHO IS LIKE REALLY TRULY A NERD, LOVED MATH.

LOVED THOSE NUMBERS.

YOU KNOW? I LOVE A QUOTE OF HERS, SHE SAID, WELL THEY ASKED ME, THEY TOLD ME THEY WANTED TO GO TO THE MOON AND TO GO TO SPACE, OH, WELL, I'LL DO THE THE CALCULATION FOR YOU TO TRY TO GET YOU BACK.

>> EXACTLY.

YOU KNOW? SHE ALWAYS SAID, LISTEN, THAT'S IMPORTANT.

PEOPLE THINK IT'S ALL ABOUT SHOOTING THE MAN INTO SPACE BUT YOU'VE GOT TO GET HIM BACK HOME SAFELY.

TELL ME WHERE YOU WANT HIM TO LAND AND WE'LL WORK BACKWARDS FROM THERE.

>> SO THEN HOW MANY WOULD YOU SAY THERE WERE ALTOGETHER DURING THIS TIME? OF BLACK WOMEN.

>> OF BLACK WOMEN, SO I'M STILL COUNTING.

I GET E-MAILS ON A REGULAR BASIS FROM FAMILY MEMBERS OF THESE WOMEN WHO WORKED THERE.

MY GUESS RIGHT NOW IS THAT OF THE BLACK WOMEN THAT THERE WERE PROBABLY 80 LET'S SAY GIVE OR TAKE.

>> WHICH IS A LOT.

>> YEAH.

FROM 1943 TO LET'S 1990, THEY WERE PART OF A LARGER COHORT OF WHITE AND BLACK WOMEN DOING THIS JOB AT LANGLEY, AT NASA CLEVELAND, WHICH IS NOW CALLED GLENN.

AND YOU KNOW, THE VARIOUS NASA CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

I THINK THERE WERE MORE THAN THOUSAND IN THIS GROUP OF WOMEN.

SO MANY OF THEM DURING WORLD WAR II.

MANY OF THOSE WOMEN ENDED UP SPENDING THEIR ENTIRE CAREER DOING THIS MATHEMATICAL WORK.

BUT I'M STILL TRYING TO TRACK DOWN ALL OF THEIR NAMES.

THAT IS MY GOAL.

>> IT'S JUST SUCH A WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL STORY.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ARE DEDICATED TO THEIR WORK, IN THAT KIND OF THING, GETTING A MAN TO THE MOON OR GETTING A MAN IN SPACE OR GETTING THEM BACK SOMEWHERE OR EARTH COULD TAKE 1 MILLION -- I THINK ONE OF THEM TOOK 1.

2 MILLION CALCULATIONS OR EQUATIONS OR, YOU KNOW, VERSIONS OF IT.

AND THERE IS THIS GROUP OF WOMEN WHO WERE DOING ALL OF THIS WORK PRECOMPUTER.

>> YEAH.

I WILL MENTION ALSO, I THINK WE ALWAYS THINK OF THE SPACE PROGRAM BECAUSE THAT IS, YOU KNOW, I'M SENDING MAN INTO SPACE, ON TO THE MOON, ALMOST A MAGICAL THING.

BUT IN THE VERY BEGINNING, EVEN THROUGHOUT THIS ENTIRE TIME PERIOD, THESE WOMEN WERE WORKING ON AIRPLANES.

SO THE NEXT TIME YOU GET ON AN AIRPLANE, NEXT TIME YOU'RE AT LaGUARDIA OR WHEREVER IT IS, AND YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE SHAPE OF THE WINGS, YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE TAIL THAT JUTS UP LIKE THAT, ALL THOSE ASPECTS OF THE AIRPLANE, THAT IS ALSO SOMETHING THESE WOMEN WORKED ON.

SO IN A VERY, VERY REAL WAY THEIR WORK HAS HAD A TRANSFORMATIVE EFFECT ON ALL OF OUR LIVES NOT JUST ASTRONAUTS.

>> WE HEARD ABOUT THE DEBUT OF THE BOOK.

IT SEEMED LIKE SIX YEARS WHICH IS NOT REALLY A LOT OF TIME BUT MUST HAVE SEEMED LIKE A LOT OF TIME TO YOU, HOWEVER.

BUT THE BOOK CAME OUT SEPTEMBER 6th AND IT WAS ANNOUNCED IMMEDIATELY THAT THERE WAS ALREADY A FILM.

WE HAVE GOT A CLIP OF THAT.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THAT AND THEN WE'LL COME BACK AND TALK ABOUT HOW ALL OF THAT HAPPENED.

>> EQUILATERAL.

>> TRAPEZOID.

>> ISOSCELES.

>> TETRAHEDRON.

>> I HAVE NEVER SEEN A MIND LIKE THE ONE YOUR DAUGHTER HAS.

YOU HAVE TO SEE- WHAT SHE BECOMES.

>> KATHERINE, WE ARE GOING TO END UP UNEMPLOYEED RIDING AROUND IN THIS PILE OF JUNK.

>> YOU'RE WELCOME TO WALK FOR 16 MILES.

>> OR SIT IN THE BACK OF THE BUS.

>> YOU HAVE THE IDENTIFICATION? >> WE'RE JUST ON OUR WAY TO WORK AT NASA.

>> I HAD NO IDEA THEY HIRED.

>> QUITE A FEW WOMEN WORK IN THE SPACE PROGRAM.

>> KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE? WE'RE PUTTING A HUMAN ON TOP OF A MISSILE, SHOOTING THEM INTO SPACE AND IT'S NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE.

I NEED A MATHEMATICIAN THAT CAN LOOK BEYOND THE NUMBERS.

MATH THAT DOESN'T YET EXIST.

BEFORE THE RUSSIANS PLANT A FLAG FROM THE DAMN MOON.

>> YOU HAVE SOMEONE? >> KATHERINE IS THE GAL FOR THAT.

SHE CAN HANDLE ANY NUMBERS YOU PUT IN FRONT OF HER.

>> DON'T EMBARRASS ME.

>> THIS WASN'T EMPTIED LAST NIGHT.

>> SORRY, I'M NOT THE- >> THAT COLONEL JIM IS A TALL GLASS OF WATER.

>> HE'S COMING OVER.

>> NOW WHY WOULD HE BE DOING THAT? >> CAUSE MARY'S WAVING AT HIM.

>> NO.

>> DOROTHY, SLICE OF PIE? >> I'D LOVE ONE.

>> YOU ALREADY HAVE A SLICE OF PIE DOROTHY.

>> YOU WORK ON THE COMPUTER AT NASA.

THEY LET WOMEN HANDLE THAT SORT OF? - >> YES.

THEY LET WOMEN DO SOME THINGS AT NASA, MR.

JOHNSON.

AND IT'S NOT BECAUSE WE WEAR SKIRTS, IT'S BECAUSE WE WEAR GLASSES.

>> WE GO FROM BEING OUR FATHER'S DAUGHTERS TO OUR HUSBANDS WIVES TO OUR BABIES MOTHER.

>> YOU'VE BEEN GONE FOR 300 HOURS.

>> WAS MAMA GONE FOR 12 1/2 DAYS? >> NO.

BUT IT FELT LIKE IT.

>> FELT LIKE IT TO ME TOO.

>> IT'S CRUNCH TIME.

IN 14 DAYS ASTRONAUTS WILL BE HERE FOR TRAINING.

AND EVERYTHING WE DO IS GOING TO MATTER TO THEIR WIVES, TO THEIR CHILDREN.

I THINK IT WILL MATTER TO THE WHOLE DAMN COUNTRY.

>> MY GAL'S ARE READY.

WE CAN DO THE WORK.

>> THAT'S JOHN GLENN.

>> WHAT DO YOU LADIES DO FOR NASA? >> CALCULATING LAUNCH AND LANDING SIR.

ENGINEER.

AND I'M PROUD AS THE DEVIL TO BE WORKING WITH YOU.

>> HOW COULD IT POSSIBLY BE OGLING THESE WHITE MEN.

>> IT'S EQUAL RIGHTS.

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE FINE IN EVERY COLOR.

>> THERE'S NO PROTOCOL FOR WOMEN ATTENDING.

>> THERE'S NO PROTOCOL FOR MAN CIRCLING THE EARTH EITHER SIR.

>> EVERY TIME WE HAVE A CHANCE TO GET AHEAD, THEY MOVE THE FINISH LINE.

EVERY TIME.

>> WE ALL GET THERE TOGETHER OR WE DON'T GET THERE AT ALL.

>> IT'S GOOD TO KNOW THAT NASA ISN'T GIVING UP ON GOOD OLD FASHIONED BRAIN POWER.

>> LET ME ASK YOU, IF YOU WERE A WHITE MALE WOULD YOU WISH TO BE AN ENGINEER? >> I WOULDN'T HAVE TO.

I'D ALREADY BE ONE.

>> MARGOT, WHAT A TREAT.

AND, YOU KNOW, IT SAYS IT'S OPENING IN JANUARY.

CHRISTMAS DAY IN SOME PLACES YOU'LL BE ABLE TO SEE THIS FILM.

CONGRATULATIONS.

>> THANK YOU.

>> SO FOR THOSE WHO TOIL, YOU HAVE TARAJI HENSON, OCTAVIA SPENCER, JANELLE MONAE, KEVIN COSTNER, HOW DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN? >> YEAH, I MEAN, I'M STILL SORT OF PROCESSING ALL OF IT.

IT'S AMAZING.

THIS IS MY FIRST BOOK.

AND RIGHT AROUND THE TIME THAT MY LITERARY AGENT WHO'S A WONDERFUL WOMAN NAMED MACKENZIE BRADY WATSON SHE FOUND A PUBLISHER FOR THE BOOK AND SHE GOT THE BOOK PROPOSAL INTO THE HANDS OF A PRODUCER NAME, VERY WELL RESPECTED, A VERY POWERFUL WOMAN IN HOLLYWOOD WHO HAS A PASSION FOR WOMEN'S STORIES.

SHE GOT THE PROPOSAL.

SHE WROTE ABOUT THESE WOMEN.

AND, YOU KNOW, SHE CALLED ME UP AND SHE SAID, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE A MOVIE.

YOU KNOW? I WAS LIKE, YOU KNOW, I'M STILL WORKING TO MAKE A BOOK.

>> ALL RIGHT.

WAIT A MINUTE, I'M ALMOST FINISHED.

>> YEAH, I'M AT THE END OF THE RESEARCH AND SHE'S TALKING ABOUT MAKING A MOVIE.

>> IT'S FANTASTIC.

AND THE REASON THEY'RE PREVIEWING IT EARLY IS BECAUSE THE OSCAR BUZZ IS SO STRONG AROUND THIS FILM.

SO CONGRATULATIONS FOR IT.

>> THANK YOU.

>> FOR THAT AS WELL.

LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE WOMEN.

DOROTHY VAUGHAN.

NOW, WHO WAS SHE AND WHAT -- WHAT WAS SHE WORKING ON? >> RIGHT, SO AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, I HEARD DOROTHY VAUGHN FROM KATHERINE JOHNSON.

>> RIGHT.

>> I THINK ONE OF THE GIFTS THAT KATHERINE HAS GIVEN US, IN ADDITION TO THE WORK THAT SHE DID WAS A REAL WAY TO SHINE THE LIGHT ON ALL OF THE WOMEN.

YOU KNOW, BLACK AND WHITE REALLY WHO HAVE BEEN DOING THIS WORK.

BUT THERE'S ONE IN PARTICULAR, AND SOMEONE WHO CAME TO LANGLEY, THE LANGLEY MEMORIAL AND AERONAUTICAL LABORATORY DURING THE WAR AS MANY DID.

SHE SHOWED UP IN DECEMBER OF 1943.

SHE WAS WORKING ON AIRPLANES BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY WERE DOING BACK IN THOSE DAYS.

YOU KNOW, HELPING AIRPLANES DURING THE WAR, MILITARY AIRCRAFT, FLY FASTER, FURTHER, MORE EFFICIENTLY.

ORIGINALLY SHE WAS PLACED IN THE WEST COMPUTING GROUP WHICH IS THE GROUP OF BLACK WOMEN.

THEY HAD TWO WHITE SUPERVISORS ORIGINALLY.

EVERY TIME DOROTHY VAUGHAN TOOK OVER THAT GROUP, SHE BECAME THE SUPERVISOR OF THAT GROUP OF BLACK WOMEN AND THAT -- YOU KNOW, I WAS REALLY SURPRISED WHEN I FOUND THE MEMOS DOCUMENTING THAT BECAUSE THAT REALLY MADE HER AS INSPECTION HEAD IN THIS GROUP, THE FIRST BLACK SUPERVISOR.

IT WAS -- IT IS TO US NOW, JUST A VERY MODERATE FACT, YOU KNOW, THING THAT HAD HAPPENED IN THESE MEMOS AS I WAS DOING THE RESEARCH.

BUT IN RETROSPECT THAT WAS REALLY A HUGE THING AND, YOU KNOW, DOROTHY VAUGHAN, HERSELF SHE WAS A VERY, VERY GOOD MATHEMATICIAN, BUT SHE WAS A GOOD MANAGER.

SHE WAS A FIERCE ADVOCATE FOR THE WOMEN IN HER GROUP AND SHE ALSO ADVOCATED FOR OTHER WOMEN, THE WHITE WOMEN, WHO WERE IN DIFFERENT GROUPS.

YOU KNOW, MAKING SURE THAT THE WOMEN WERE TREATED FAIRLY, THAT THEY WERE PAID FAIRLY AND PROMOTED THE WAY THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO.

SHE WAS REALLY A PIONEER AND SOMEONE WHO HELPED OPEN DOORS FOR A LOT OF OTHER WOMEN.

>> AND THE POINT TO EMPHASIZE, THIS WAS TOTALLY SEGREGATED.

>> THIS WAS A STILL SEGREGATED BATHROOM, SEGREGATED CAFETERIA AND A SEGREGATED OFFICE.

>> AND YET DOING THE CALCULATION TO GET THE MEN -- >> YES.

>> SAFE AND LANDING ON THE MOON.

SO MARY JACKSON.

>> MARY JACKSON IS NATIVE OF HAMPTON, VIRGINIA.

MANY WOMEN CAME FROM WEST VIRGINIA, FROM NEW JERSEY, FROM TEXAS.

MARY IS FROM RIGHT THERE IN HAMPTON, VIRGINIA.

HER ROOTS GO BACK TO, YOU KNOW, THE CIVIL WAR, TO RECONSTRUCTION.

YOU KNOW, SO HER FAMILY IS HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, AS IT GETS.

AND MARY ALSO ANOTHER WOMAN WHO TAUGHT MATH INITIALLY AFTER GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE.

AND MARY HAS THE DISTINCTION OF BEING THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN ENGINEER AT LANGLEY.

AND I THINK THE ENTIRE ORGANIZATION THAT IS NASA.

SHE STARTED OUT IN THE SEGREGATED COMPUTER POOL.

SHE WAS FROM -- SHE WAS TRANSFERRED AFTER SORT OF AN INCIDENT WHERE SHE WAS WORKING WITH SOME WHITE COMPUTERS WHO REMEMBER KIND OF CHUCKLING AT HER WHEN SHE HAD TO GO FIND THE BATHROOM, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY SHE HAD TO GO FIND THE COLORED BATHROOM AND SORT OF STEALING ACROSS THE WAY ON THE CAMPUS AND RAN INTO THE WHITE ENGINEER AND SAID, LISTEN, MARY, I THINK YOU'RE SUPER TALENTED, COME WORK FOR ME IN MY GROUP.

>> OKAY.

>> OBVIOUSLY, SHE -- HE SAID, LISTEN, YOU KNOW, MARY, I THINK THAT YOU'RE A GOOD MATHEMATICIAN BUT I THINK YOU'D BE A VERY GOOD ENGINEER.

AS AN ENGINEER SHE'D BE ABLE TO DO HER OWN PROJECTS, DO HER OWN EXPERIMENTS AND HE RECOMMENDED HER FOR THE ENGINEERING TRAINING PROGRAM AND WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO SUPPORT HER CAREER OVER TIME.

AND SO MARY, YOU KNOW, WAS SOMEONE ALSO WHO PARTICULARLY AT THE END OF HER CAREER FOUGHT VERY HARD SO THAT TALENTED PEOPLE, FEMALES, BLACK, WHITE, WHATEVER WERE ABLE TO LET THEIR TALENT SHINE AND MOVE UP AS THEY SHOULD MOVE UP.

>> AND CHRISTINE DARDEN? >> CHRISTINE DARDEN, WHO HER BIRTHDAY WAS ON SEPTEMBER 10th, AND SHE IS NOW -- SHE RETIRED IN 2007 I BELIEVE AS A BUSY, IF NOT BUSIER IN RETIREMENT AT HOME.

>> HOW OLD DID SHE TURN -- >> 74 YEARS OLD.

>> OKAY.

>> SO SHE WAS REALLY SOMEONE WHO STOOD ON THE SHOULDERS OF THESE WOMEN WHO CAME BEFORE.

AND WAS ABLE TO KIND OF REALIZE THE FULLNESS OF HER TALENTS.

CHRISTINE CAME IN AND SHE STARTED IN 1967.

SHE WAS IN THE COMPUTER POOL WHICH BY THEN HAD BEEN COMPLETELY INTEGRATED.

IT WAS NO LONGER RACIALLY SEGREGATED.

>> '67, SO THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT AFTER THE RIOTS, DURING -- >> DURING ALL OF THAT, RIGHT.

PART OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

HOWEVER, IT WAS MOSTLY FEMALE.

SO THERE WAS STILL WOMEN GOING OUT OF THAT MATHEMATICIAN ROLE AND INTO THE ENGINEERING ROLE.

BUT SHE -- AFTER SOME YEARS IN THE COMPUTING POOL, REALLY ALSO LIKE MARY, YOU KNOW, AN ENGINEER, WANTED TO THE HER OWN EXPERIMENTS AND RESEARCH, ENTERED THE BIG BOSS AND SAY, LISTEN, WHY IS IT WOMEN THAT ARE HIRED AS ANALYSTS AND NOT AS ENGINEERS I WANTED TO DO MY OWN RESEARCH.

THEY SAID, YOU KNOW WHAT, NO ONE'S EVER COMPLAINED ABOUT IT, BUT NOW THAT YOU'VE ASKED, HERE'S YOUR CHANCE.

SHE TOOK THAT CHANCE AND RAN WITH IT.

SHE IS AN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED EXPERIMENT ON SUPERSONIC FLIGHT AND SONIC BOOM PHENOMENA.

>> INCREDIBLE.

KATHERINE JOHNSON IS NOW 98.

>> SHE TURNED 98 ON AUGUST 26th.

>> RECEIVED THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM LAST YEAR.

THAT WAS A PRETTY BIG DEAL.

IN LOOKING AT SOME OF HER RESEARCH, I THINK SHE WAS MORE EXCITED ABOUT THE PARK BENCH THAN ABOUT THE MEDAL.

>> WELL, THE STORY THAT'S SO WONDERFUL IT'S A TRIBUTE TO SO MANY THINGS IN HAMPTON, VIRGINIA, WHERE I GREW UP AND WHERE THIS STORY TOOK PLACE TO, YOU KNOW, TO LANGLEY, TO HAMPTON UNIVERSITY.

WHICH USED TO BE CALLED HAMPTON INSTITUTE, A HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE THERE.

SO I THINK, YOU KNOW, HAVING THE HOMETOWN CELEBRATE YOU IS A FANTASTIC THING.

>> NOW YOU'RE WORKING ON ANOTHER PROJECT.

>> I'M WORKING ON ANOTHER PROJECT.

THIS IS SORT OF THE FIRST OF WHAT I'M SORT OF CONCEIVING AS MY AFRICAN-AMERICAN TRILOGY.

I FOUND TWO OTHER SIMILAR -- NOT QUITE UNTOLD BUT PERHAPS UNSEEN STORIES THAT AS SOON AS I GET A BREATHER I HOPE TO START WORKING FOR.

>> SHE'S NOT REVEALING WHAT THEY ARE, BECAUSE SOMEBODY ELSE WILL SAY, HEY, YOU KNOW, THAT'S A GREAT IDEA, I THINK I'LL DO THAT.

>> YEAH.

IT'S AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN TRILOGY.

THAT'S WHAT I'M WORKING ON NOW.

>> YOU HAVE TO BE THINKING ABOUT, YOU PROBABLY HAVE THE FEEDBACK FROM YOUNG WOMEN AND GIRLS ON WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THEM.

ESPECIALLY GIRLS OF COLOR, GOING INTO S.

T.

E.

M.

PROJECTS.

WHAT EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU HAD WITH THAT IN TERMS OF FEEDBACK? >> IT HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING.

JUST THIS MORNING I GOT -- ON TWITTER, THE MOTHER OF A YOUNG GIRL HAD WRITTEN A LETTER TO KATHERINE JOHNSON AND CHRISTINE DARDEN, SAYING I THINK YOU'RE BOTH SO SMART.

I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU WHEN I GROW UP.

YOU KNOW? I MEAN, IT'S AMAZING.

SO I HAVE GOTTEN RESPONSES FROM THE PARENTS OF YOUNG WOMEN IN COLLEGE SAYING THEY'RE HAVING A HARD TIME, THE MATH AND SCIENCE FIELD.

SO THEY'RE THE ONLY WOMEN IN THEIR CLASS.

THANK YOU FOR PRESENTING THESE ROLE MODELS BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THEY KNOW THEY CAN DO THAT.

AND, YOU KNOW, I HAVE GOTTEN E-MAILS FROM WOMEN WHO ARE IN THE PROGRAMS, THE ASSOCIATION OF BLACK WOMEN'S PHYSICISTS, YOU KNOW? >> THERE'S A SMALL GROUP.

BUT MAYBE NOT? >> WELL, I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU TALK ABOUT THE NUMBERS AND OBVIOUSLY WE DO WANT GREATER NUMBERS.

GREATER INCLUSION OF WOMEN OF BLACK PEOPLE, OF ALL PEOPLE IN THESE FIELDS BUT I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO DO IS SEE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE FIRST.

THEY'RE NOT SEEN, REGARDLESS OF OUR BACKGROUND.

BLACK PEOPLE TOO.

WE DON'T SEE THESE PEOPLE ARE THERE ALL THE TIME.

I THINK THEY DO AMAZING WORK LIKE THESE WOMEN.

WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE AND LISTEN AROUND SEE THEM AS THEY ARE RIGHT NOW IN THESE PROFESSIONS.

>> TO CELEBRATE THEM.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU MENTIONED THROUGHOUT THE BOOK IS THAT IT'S NOT SO HELPFUL TO THINK OF THEM AS EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN, THEY NEED TO BE REWARDED FOR THEIR TALENT, NOT THEIR EXCEPTIONALISM.

>> YEAH.

WE LOOK AND WE CELEBRATE THE WORK OF PEOPLE LIKE CHRIS KRAFT AND GENE KRANZ AND NEIL ARMSTRONG AS PART OF THE TEAM.

WE DON'T EXPECT THEM TO BE THE ONLY WHITE MAN DOING THIS WORK.

YOU KNOW, THEY DID AMAZING WORK.

THEY'RE PART OF A TEAM.

THESE BLACK WOMEN AND THE LARGER GROUP OF MEN ALSO DID EXCEPTIONAL WORK AND THEY WERE PART OF THE TEAM.

SO WE NEED TO SEE THEM AS EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY PEOPLE INSTEAD OF EXPECTING THEM TO BE THE ONE AND ONLY.

>> THANKS.

SO WE ALWAYS FINISH BY ASKING THE GUEST TO SAY THAT THE STRENGTH OF AMERICA LIES IN -- >> IMAGINATION.

IMAGINATION.

I THINK THAT THE HISTORY OF BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE POWER TO IMAGINE A BETTER CIRCUMSTANCE.

IMAGINE, YOU KNOW, A NEW FORM OF MUSIC LIKE JAZZ.

YOU KNOW, TO REALLY IMAGINE THAT AMERICA LIVES UP TO ITS IDEALS AND I THINK NOW THAT WE SEE THESE BLACK WOMEN WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE PROCESS OF IMAGINING WE CAN SEND A MAN TO THE MOON, THAT REALLY ALLOWS FOR SO MUCH GREATER LEEWAY OF EXISTENCE.

>> AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

>> ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

CONGRATULATIONS.

>> THANK YOU, CAROL.

>> EVERYBODY RUSH OUT AND GET "HIDDEN FIGURES" AND GO SEE THE FILM.

AND WE'LL WAIT FOR THE NEXT TWO ADDITIONS HERE.

THANKS FOR WATCHING US HERE TODAY TOO.

WE'LL SEE YOU THE NEXT TIME.

I'M CAROL JENKINS.

THE PROGRAM IS "BLACK AMERICA.

" ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪.