Shetterly’s exhaustively-researched book, writes Laurel Raymond, “relays what it was like to grow up as a black girl in Hampton, Virginia, where most of her community worked at the nearby Langley NASA research center while the movie distills her story by focusing on three of NASA’s brightest black female stars.
“I knew so many African Americans working in science, math, and engineering that I thought that’s just what black folks did,” Shetterly wrote.
The movie stands out for its powerhouse cast of black women, with Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Taraji Henson as Katherine Johnson and its focus on the scientists behind early space flight instead of the astronauts who rode the rockets to fame.
The PG-rated movie, notes Raymond, “also grapples plainly and clearly with segregation, racism, and prejudice. All in all, it’s a story that’s extremely well-told, and more than worth watching.” Best of all, the story is the true story of NASA’s heretofore forgotten great women scientists.