There’s a book called Hidden Figures coming out this year that tells the story of the Black women mathematicians who helped NASA and the United States win the space race from the 1940s through the 1960s. Written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the book has already been optioned for film with Ted Melfi already attached to direct and Taraji P. Henson attached to star as one of the women, Dorothy Johnson according to Deadline.
Dorothy Johnson was born in Kansas City in 1910 and graduated from Wilberforce University in 1929. She was a math teacher before joining NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, pre-NASA) in 1943. She worked for and eventually became the head of the West Area Computers department where she and her team of Black women mathematicians, who were segregated from the rest of the organization, did computer programming, coding languages like FORTRAN, and contributed to the Solid Controlled Orbital Utility Test system or SCOUT Project, whose research was used in the nation’s space program.
She retired from NASA in 1971, and died in 2008 at the age of 98. You can read her obituary here. Look for the book to come out later this year and the film to hit screens in 2017.