The African American Book Club at the Palmdale City Library will meet on Dec. 20 and discuss on Dec. 20 Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures.” The discussion will begin at 6:45 p.m.
Before the late John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians were known as “human computers” who, long before computers, relied on pencils, slide rules and adding machines to crunch the numbers needed for space travel. Among these women were a group of talented Black women who comprised some of the nation’s brightest minds. They were originally relegated to teaching mathematics in southern segregated schools, but were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II.
At the time, America’s aeronautics industry was in need of anyone who had the “right stuff,” and these math whizzes took advantage of the unique opportunity to work for the defense department at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required these Black women to be segregated from their White counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-Black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union during the Cold War and, even more historic, dominance of the coming space race.
New members are welcome to stop by the meetings which are conducted on the third Tuesday of each month.
The Palmdale City Library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
For more details, call (661) 267-5600 or visit www.cityofpalmdale.org/library.