‘Hidden Figures’ named One Book One Northwestern for 2019-20


Source: Northwestern Now

The cover of “Hidden Figures.” Its author, Margot Lee Shetterly, will speak on campus next fall.

Gabby Birenbaum, Campus Edior

Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures,” the story of three black women scientists whose work at NASA launched the first manned mission to orbit the Earth, will be the 2019-20 One Book One Northwestern selection. The story was turned into an Academy Award-nominated 2017 movie of the same name.

The book shares the history of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, previously little-known scientists who fought racism and sexism at NASA in the 1960s to pioneer innovation in space exploration.

As part of the One Book programming, all first-year undergraduates and graduates will receive the e-book through Amazon as well as a free six-month membership to Amazon Prime.

Molecular biosciences Prof. Heather Pinkett, and One Book co-chair, said the book will motivate readers and spur critical thinking about who gets remembered.

“That the story took this long to surface makes us think about how many other stories of scientific excellence have been relegated to the collective memory of the few who knew them best,” Pinkett said. “It is an inspirational story of fighting to do what you do best, what fuels you, when the world around you has yet to catch up to the times.”

Shetterly will give the keynote address on the Evanston and Chicago campuses Oct. 17. Outside of the book, she created a digital archive to feature women who worked in STEM fields at NASA.

Teresa Woodruff, the dean of The Graduate School and One Book co-chair, said the book is uniquely situated to unite the Northwestern community in a Tuesday release.

“This book unifies the NU universe, including undergraduate and graduate students with faculty and staff in Chicago and Qatar and NU alums scattered around the globe,” Woodruff said. “Exploring themes of what is needed to take bold leaps, to enable success, to work across differences and to reveal what could not be known without every voice in our community is what our year will be about.”

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