MLK Day and Hidden Figures

Freedom is earned through education. You are a slave to your own ignorance. Computer Science education is a path to freedom, and it is free. We must build on where we agree, and stop tearing down those we don’t agree with. Instead of saying red or blue is better, lets make purple.

In “Hidden Figures” the computers did not destroy their community, they found solutions while following the unfair rules. They did not ask others for help, they were proactive leaders. They taught themselves to program the new IBM computer at NASA, as they knew their jobs were coming to an end.

When the rules were changed to prevent a colored from being an engineer, a computer went to court and legally had a waiver passed so she could get her advanced degree.

When the rules of using a colored restroom caused a loss of work time, the boss knocked down the sign and said from now on there will be no separation. What a powerful message to honor the memory of MLK.

We all need to find those “Hidden Figures” in our community, and introduce them to coding, as it is a way out of poverty.  Please join and be a Code Buddy so we can bring CS For All to every community.  Please build the aspirations of young women in computing.  NCWIT is making a scene and you can be part.

Hidden Figures” brings to light the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — three Black women mathematicians who charted the course that launched Astronaut John Glenn into orbit during the Space Race in the 1950s. Gee, 2017 and we have not yet achieved equity in computing even after decades of advocating. In 2015, only three percent of the computing workforce were Black women. But, with inspiration and change-leading work, we can narrow the gap for women in tech by building a community of divergent thinkers and change agents.

A computer is not just a machine, it is also a person who computes.  I too was learning FORTRAN back in the 1960’s and remember the keypunch cards and perseverance it took to be successful. That is the message we need to give our children.  Spend your time learning.

People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working. I suppose my formula might be: dream, diversity – and never miss an angle. – Walt Disney “The Quotable … it was all started by a mouse.”

Adding this after all the women’s marches across the world. For those sending a positive message, thank you. But for the many who were negative role models I would not want my grand-daughter to see, I ask please stop it.  Please march into a classroom, a school, and make sure all girls have an equal opportunity to learn the 21st academic skills found in computer science.  Build the mindset for computational thinking leadership.

The Houston Chronicle published an editorial about “Hidden Figures” where I shared the need for volunteers.  Teachers need help to build the minds for our future.

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