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Commencement Speeches Highlight Black Women Tied To Space Exploration05:44
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Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race," speaks at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's 2018 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12. MoreCloseclosemore
Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race," speaks at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's 2018 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12.

The story of the African-American women who helped the U.S. make strides in space exploration has made its way from a book to the movie theater, and now, to local commencement speeches.

Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of "Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space," spoke before the 2018 graduating class at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday. She drove home the fact that scientists can use their passions to make humanitarian gains — such as Henry Reid, a 1919 WPI graduate, did when he hired several black women to be mathematicians in his laboratory while working as an engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the precursor to NASA.

That same day, NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson spoke to the Massachusetts College for Liberal Arts. In 2006, the Pittsfield native became the second African-American woman to go to space when she embarked on a mission to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Excerpted Speakers

Margot Lee Shetterly, author of "Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space." She spoke during the Worcester Polytechnic Institute commencement ceremony Saturday. She tweets @margotshetterly.

Stephanie Wilson, NASA astronaut and the second African-American woman to go to space. She spoke during the Massachusetts College for Liberal Arts commencement ceremony in North Adams on Monday.

This segment aired on May 15, 2018.

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