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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.”
“Katherine Johnson knew: once you took the first step, anything was possible.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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?”
“Sometimes, she knew, the most important battles for dignity, pride, and progress were fought with the simplest of actions.”
“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.”
“I changed what I could, and what I couldn't, I endured.”
“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.”
“There was virtually no aspect of twentieth-century defense technology that had not been touched by the hands and minds of female mathematicians.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Many times, when children enter school they shun mathematics and science during the years when they should be learning the basics.”
“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.”
“Virginia, a state with one of the highest concentrations of scientific talent in the world, led the nation in denying education to its youth.”
“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.”
“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”
“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.”
“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”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“each of us should be allowed to rise as far as our talent and hard work can take us. The”
“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.”
“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.”
“But when you slice truth too thin, you deceive.”
“I've loved you my whole life, Chas, from that first day you took me home after Michelle died. And I'm terrified you'll leave me or you'll stop loving me or even worse, something will happen to you. But I can't be without you anymore." He takes my hands, which are shaking wildly, and swallows.
"Today I watched Mike give away the woman he loves. I can't do that, Chas. I thought I could, I thought it would be better if you were with someone else, but I was wrong. And I swear to you, I will love you the rest of my life and nothing will ever come before you. Please, Chastity. Forgive me and marry me and have a bunch of babies with me, and I'll-”
“The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.”
“Where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter”
“...on a subconscious level we're aware that time isn't enduring, that it is not a required condition of our existence, that there comes a point when we will have no need of it.”
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