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Black Arts and Culture

Hidden Figures Women Honored With State Markers

By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent
New Journal and Guide

Three pioneering African American women mathematicians who made contributions to NASA and the space race were honored with three historical state markers at the Virginia Air & Space Science Center on Wednesday (March 23).

The three gained national recognition with the publication of the book “Hidden Figures” by Hampton native Margot Lee Shetterly and a popular movie by the same name.

Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan were nicknamed “Hidden Figures” because their contributions to the country were largely unrecognized due to the racial climate at the time. The state markers were granted after city and state representatives and sorority chapter members worked for years to get the funding and approval. Around 200 people came out for the unveiling of the markers. The state of Virginia has over 2,700 historical markers but fewer than 380 honor African Americans.

Hidden Figures & the New Journal and Guide History Fact: Author Margot Lee Shetterly contacted and consulted Guide publisher Brenda Andrews when searching for a photo to serve as the cover of her book, “Hidden Figures.” Shetterly used the archives of the New Journal and Guide for historical information when writing her book.

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