Hidden Figures, The Black Computers Of NASA

 

Did you know that Black women played an integral role in securing America’s dominance of the worldwide Aerospace industry? It’s an achievement that most people didn’t know about but is now coming to light after a book written about the women has been made into a movie and is slated to be released in theaters soon.

During the 2nd world war of the 1940s up into the space race of the 1960s a small group of Black female mathematicians, known as the Black Computers, were employed by NASA to work on top-secret airplane development. The women played an integral role in calculating the advanced mathematical measurements needed to build stronger, lighter, and faster Airplanes and rockets.

It maybe hard for some to imagine but there was a time before the sophisticated machines of today when people were the ones known as Computers. What’s even stranger is the fact that the term “Computer” was reserved for female mathematicians only. Men preferred to be called Engineers.

The 1940s was a very racist and segregated time in America. Most highly educated Black men and women were barred from jobs in the Aerospace industry. In those days American Aircraft technology lagged way behind other countries so facing a shortage of able “Computers” to help design missiles and planes for the war NACA, as it was known at the time, hired the Black women based on their exceptional credentials.

The Black Computers worked in secret and in segregation from even other white Computers. After initial skepticism about their abilities from those who believed that Black people were in all ways inferior, their skills at solving every complex task given to them soon gained them respect and admiration from their white co-workers.

The word is now out on NASA’s Black Computers but if you hadn’t heard about them before, it’s not a coincidence. NASA originally suppressed knowledge of the Black Computer for several reasons that include; embarrassment by whites that Blacks played a role in such a prominent scientific field and the women themselves were sworn to secrecy for security purposes.

The new movie entitled “Hidden Figures” is slated for released in January 2017. It stars Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer as three of the key members of the Black Computers. We urge everyone to get out and see it because the Black Computers showed the racists that Black intelligence needed to be respected

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