The UNCG commencement will be held at 10 a.m. on May 12 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Commencement is open to the public.
“I can’t think of a better person to address our graduating class with a message of excellence and opportunity – that regardless of your background or socioeconomic status, incredible things are possible with hard work and commitment,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “ ‘Hidden Figures’ brings to life UNCG’s values of inclusion, opportunity and excellence. As our 2017 graduating class looks to the future, we are confident that they too, like the real-life heroes portrayed in ‘Hidden Figures,’ will go out into the world and accomplish great things.”
The book and film tell the story of the pioneering black female mathematicians, known as “human computers,” who worked at NASA during the space race.
And “Hidden Figures” has a direct connection to UNCG – alumna Virginia Tucker, class of 1930, was one of five trailblazing women to join the first human computer pool at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory (now Langley Research Center) in 1935. Langley was the main research center for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the precursor to NASA.
When World War II began in 1939, more and more women were recruited as “computers” to conduct wind tunnel testing and other research for the military. Tucker recruited at East Coast institutions including UNCG, which was known at the time as the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina. UNCG actually graduated one of the largest groups of women who went on to work as the human computers, according to the university.
Katherine Moore, the youngest daughter of Katherine Johnson and one of the main characters in the book and the film — lives in Greensboro, according to The News & Record. Tre Stokes, of Greensboro, also appears in the film as the child of one of the film’s main characters.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett