diversity & race | September 19, 2016

Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures an Instant NYT Bestseller

Margot Lee Shetterly’s new book Hidden Figures has debuted at number seven on the New York Times bestseller list (other Lavin speaker books on the list include Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and Angela Duckworth’s Grit). 


Shetterly's book tells the story of critical, behind-the-scenes work at NASA undertaken by black women ‘human computers’ to help America win the space race. It’s made huge waves since its release on September 6, and is being made into a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Kevin Costner. This week, a new interview with Shetterly ran in The New York Times Magazine, where she discusses Hidden Figures, broader views of the African American experience, representation of minorities in STEM fields, and more. 


A few highlights from the interview:


On untold stories that broaden our view of the black experience


It’s the responsibility of people like me to tell these stories, so that other people can see that this is normal. The black experience isn’t exclusively slavery/civil rights/Obama. There are certain stories that are automatically on the trajectory, and anything that’s not on that is hidden in the shadows. Meanwhile, most people live their lives between those dots.


On telling black stories that aren’t just “the first” or “the only”


That’s a huge burden to be so hungry for these stories of excellence, and to have to hold them up, like a crucifix in front of a vampire. This story takes the pressure off any one woman having to succeed or fail. It doesn’t have to be: The entirety of black hope is riding on this one person and if they mess up, all of us are doomed.


On minorities in STEM fields


I want us to see those people who are working in these fields. Even in the black community, they’re a little invisible. If we’re going to change these things, we all have to be responsible for having more imagination and being able to accept that these are part of our experience, too. As much as I think it is necessary and desirable for white people to have an expanded view of the black American experience, it’s probably even more important for black people to have that expanded view.


Read the entire interview here. Check out the trailer for Hidden Figures below, and look for it in theaters January 13, 2017.

Hidden Figures | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX


To book Margot Lee Shetterly, author of New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures, for your next event or conference, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.


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