30+ quotes from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Quotes from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

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“Women, on the other hand, had to wield their intellects like a scythe, hacking away against the stubborn underbrush of low expectations.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Katherine Johnson knew: once you took the first step, anything was possible.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Their dark skin, their gender, their economic status--none of those were acceptable excuses for not giving the fullest rein to their imaginations and ambitions.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Their path to advancement might look less like a straight line and more like some of the pressure distributions and orbits they plotted, but they were determined to take a seat at the table.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Or maybe it was her father's pragmatic dictum -- "You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you"-- that disposed her to see the hardships of her life as a fate shared by everyone, her good fortunes as an unearned blessing.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Through its inability to solve its racial problems, the United States handed the Soviet Union one of the most effective propaganda weapons in their arsenal.
Newly independent countries around the world, eager for alliances that would support their emerging identities and set them on their path to long-term prosperity, were confronted with a version of the same question black Americans had asked during World War II. Why would a black or brown nation stake its future on America's model of democracy when within its own borders the United States enforced discrimination and savagery against people who looked just like them?”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Sometimes, she knew, the most important battles for dignity, pride, and progress were fought with the simplest of actions.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“When seasoned by the subtleties of accident, harmony, favor, wisdom, and inevitability, luck takes on the cast of serendipity. Serendipity happens when a well-trained mind looking for one things encounters something else: the unexpected.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“I changed what I could, and what I couldn't, I endured.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“She trained the girls in her Girl Scout troop to believe that they could be anything, and she went to lengths to prevent negative stereotypes of their race from shaping their internal views of themselves and other Negroes. It was difficult enough to rise above the silent reminders of Colored signs on the bathroom doors and cafeteria tables. But to be confronted with the prejudice so blatantly, there in that temple to intellectual excellence and rational thought, by something so mundane, so ridiculous, so universal as having to go to the bathroom...In the moment when the white women laughed at her, Mary had been demoted from professional mathematician to a second-class human being, reminded that she was a black girl whose piss wasn't good enough for the white pot.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“There was virtually no aspect of twentieth-century defense technology that had not been touched by the hands and minds of female mathematicians.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“We are never going to sing this again," she told them, trying to explain her reasoning to the surprised youngsters. The song reinforced all the crudest stereotypes of what a Negro could do or be. Sometimes, she knew, the most important battles for dignity, pride, and progress were fought with the simplest of actions.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“But before a computer became an inanimate object, and before Mission Control landed in Houston; before Sputnik changed the course of history, and before the NACA became NASA; before the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka established that separate was in fact not equal, and before the poetry of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech rang out over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Langley’s West Computers were helping America dominate aeronautics, space research, and computer technology, carving out a place for themselves as female mathematicians who were also black, black mathematicians who were also female.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Even as a professional in an integrated world, I had been the only black woman in enough drawing rooms and boardrooms to have an inkling of the chutzpah it took for an African American woman in a segregated southern workplace to tell her bosses she was sure her calculations would put a man on the Moon.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“As far as segregationists were concerned, racial integration and communism were one and the same and posed the same kind of threat to traditional American values. Yet those charged with mounting the American offence in space saw strength in countering the Russian values of secrecy with its opposites - transparency, democracy, equality- and not a simulacrum.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“No longer just "a dull bunch of grey buildings with grey people who worked with slide rules and wrote long equations on blackboards," NASA, the public now believed, was all that stood between them and a Red sky.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Many times, when children enter school they shun mathematics and science during the years when they should be learning the basics.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“It wasn’t northern agitators who pushed Negroes to question their country, as so many southern whites wanted to believe. It was their own pride, their patriotism, their deep and abiding belief in the possibility of democracy that inspired the Negro people. And why not? Who knew American democracy more intimately than the Negro people? They knew democracy’s every virtue, vice, and shortcoming, its voice and contour, by its profound and persistent absence in their lives. The failure to secure the blessings of democracy was the feature that most defined their existence in America. Every Sunday they made their way to their sanctuaries and fervently prayed to the Lord to send them a sign that democracy would come to them.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Virginia, a state with one of the highest concentrations of scientific talent in the world, led the nation in denying education to its youth.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“The war, however, and the rhetoric that accompanied it created an urgency in the black community to call in the long overdue debt their country owed them. "Men of every creed and every race, wherever they lived in the world" were entitled to "Four Freedoms": freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear, Roosevelt said, addressing the American people in his 1941 State of the Union address.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Women, on the other hand, had to wield their intellects like a scythe, hacking away against the stubborn underbrush of low expectations. A woman who worked in the central computing pools was one step removed from the research, and the engineers’ assignments sometimes lacked the context to give the computer much knowledge about the afterlife of the numbers that bedeviled her days. She might spend weeks calculating a pressure distribution without knowing what kind of plane was being tested or whether the analysis that depended on her math had resulted in significant conclusions. The work of most of the women, like that of the Friden, Marchant, or Monroe computing machines they used, was anonymous. Even a woman who had worked closely with an engineer on the content of a research report was rarely rewarded by seeing her name alongside his on the final publication. Why would the computers have the same desire for recognition that they did? many engineers figured. They were women, after all. As”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“The community certainly included black English professors, like my mother, as well as black doctors and dentists, black mechanics, janitors, and contractors, black cobblers, wedding planners, real estate agents, and undertakers, several black lawyers, and a handful of black Mary Kay salespeople. As a child, however, I knew so many African Americans working in science, math, and engineering that I thought that’s just what black folks did.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“That so many of them were African American, many of them my grandmother’s age, struck me as simply a part of the natural order of things: growing up in Hampton, the face of science was brown like mine. My”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“What I wanted was for them to have a grand, sweeping narrative that they deserved, the kind of American history that belongs to the Wright Brothers and the astronauts, to Alexander Hamilton and Martin Luther King Jr. Not told as a separate history, but as part of the story we all know. Not at the margins, but at the very center, the protagonists of the drama. And not just because they are black, or because they are women, but because they are part of the American epic.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“You can't leave the show," King told Nichols. "We are there because you are there." Black people have been imagined in the future, he continued, emphasizing to the actress how important and ground breaking a fact that was. Furthermore, he told her, he had studied the Starfleet's command structure and believed that it mirrored that of the US Air Force, making Uhura --- a black woman! --- fourth in command of the ship.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Education topped her list of ideals; it was the surest hedge against a world that would require more of her children than white children, and attempt to give them less in return.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“They wore their professional clothes like armor. They wielded their work like weapons, warding off the presumption of inferiority because they were Negro or female.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“each of us should be allowed to rise as far as our talent and hard work can take us. The”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“Women occupied many of the cubicles; they answered phones and sat in front of typewriters, but they also made hieroglyphic marks on transparent slides and conferred with my father and other men in the office on the stacks of documents that littered their desks. That so many of them were African American, many of them my grandmother’s age, struck me as simply a part of the natural order of things: growing up in Hampton, the face of science was brown like mine.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


“But simple luck is the random birthright of the hapless. When seasoned by the subtleties of accident, harmony, favor, wisdom, and inevitability, luck takes on the cast of serendipity. Serendipity happens when a well-trained mind looking for one thing encounters something else: the unexpected. It comes from being in a position to seize opportunity from the happy marriage of time, place, and chance.”
― quote from Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race


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