Hidden Figures’ author to visit Hampton Roads Convention Center

By Roger Wynn

On Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., writer, researcher and author Margot Lee Shetterly will hold a book signing for her No. 1 selling book "Hidden Figures" in Hampton, Virginia. Shetterly, 48, will speak at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, which is open to the public. Initially, the event was to be held at the Virginia Air and Space Center, but it was moved to a larger venue due to the expected 1,000 people to attend, according to a NASA Langley Research Center announcement.

Shetterly will also hold a book signing for pre-purchased copies of her book immediately after her talk. Since September, the Hampton History Museum has sold more than 500 copies of the "Hidden Figures," according to the museum staff.

Shetterly's talk in Hampton is the most recent stop she has done since her national tour started in early September. The film based on her book was nominated for three Academy Awards. The "Hidden Figures" author was in attendance at the Academy Awards last Sunday, while the cast members, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, presented the award for best documentary.

The "Hidden Figures" story takes readers through a historical period about the untold story of the African-American women who helped win the space race. The book is a USA Today best seller, a top book for both Time and Publisher's Weekly, and a No. 1 New York Times best seller.

The book that was released in September gained a boost in sales due to the release of the movie on Jan. 13.

In early January, Shetterly was at the Hampton History Museum for a previous "Hidden Figures" book signing where over 200 people were in attendance. A couple of weeks after Shetterly was present for that event, the museum opened an exhibit inspired by Shetterly's book and called it "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers," which was open to the public. The exhibit shines light on the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, the women who contributed to NASA's success in the space race during the period in time of Jim Crow segregation in Virginia. These women were mathematicians whose calculations helped American make some of its biggest achievements in space.

After Shetterly's national tour ends, she said she will continue writing her next book. The 7:30 p.m. event is at 1610 Coliseum Dr.

The student is a writer in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Students, panelist clash over ‘Birth of a Nation’ film

By Kenya Waugh

Hampton University students clashed with a Williamsburg writer Thursday during a panel discussion about the 2016 film remake "The Birth of a Nation." The film followed the psychological and emotional development of enslaved Christian preacher Nat Turner prior to the insurrection he led in 1831.

However, as students gathered to listen to three panelists' critiques about the film's accuracy, one speaker's opinion ignited a flaming verbal joust.

"I disagree with the portrayal of white slave masters in the film. There was too much demonization," said Bill Bryant, speaking to his general view on the film's many historical errors. Bryant's family is based in Southampton County, which sparked his fascination with the Nat Turner rebellion over 50 years ago.

Bryant said the movie was "solidly constructed," but the picture was far from Nat Turner's true story within the context of American history.

Bryant also cited the presence of good plantation owners in the 19th century and how the movie's lack of representation added to its inability to be historically correct.

Scoffs and whispers erupted from the audience of mostly African-American students during his analysis, with some questioning to their peers why Bryant still had the microphone.

Deanna Lucas was among the first to openly disagree.

"I was offended by that comment, because the truth is, slavery was horrible period," said the sophomore journalism major from Philadelphia. "No 'howevers' or 'buts.'"

Lucas also said that no spectrum existed in classifying slave masters and that anyone owning another human being was malevolent by default.

Bruce Turner, Nat Turner's descendant, oral historian and panelist, agreed with Lucas.

Alexandra Ethridge, a freshman psychology major, disapproved of Bryant's comment and asked him to explain his definition of demonization. He criticized other parts of the film for its inauthenticity.

Booker Mattison, an associate professor of English and a filmmaker, chimed in to guide the discussion back on track. He said that Bryant's attention-grabbing comment and the movie's historical depictions are subjective.

"You have to think about who's doing the storytelling in this particular case," said Mattison. "The film's director chose to portray the characters the way he did because that is how he understood them to be.

"One man's rebel is another man's freedom fighter. It's all a matter of perspective."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. students await Sunday Oscars selections

By Norey P. Smith

The Academy Awards Board of Governors have come under fire regarding inconsistent votes affecting black actors and films in the recent years. This uproar has kept up an ongoing conversation among black moviegoers nationwide.

At Hampton University, a number of students eagerly await the Oscars this Sunday – televised from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood -- to witness the lineup of black-themed films expecting to be named as Best Picture, director, or actors in leading and supporting roles.

"The films that usually target a specific audience, the ones that we know should win like "Fences" might be upset. An example of this would be the year "Slumdog Millionaire" won for Best Picture." said Dr. Collin Richardson, assistant professor and pianist with the School of Liberal Arts.

The Board of Governors have a big role in deciding which nominees will win. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, had some comments on the scrutiny of the board in an interview with Marc Hogan from Pitchfork.com saying, "I don't think there's a race problem. Remember this is a peer-voted award, not a corporate entity. It's the 14,000 members of the Academy that makes it hard to be objective out of something that's inherently subjective."

Some students proposed the need for a more diverse Board of Governors after the past disappointments, such as 2015 nominee Michael B. Jordan falling short of a best actor nomination in a leading role in "Creed," yet Sylvester Stallone was nominated for best actor in a supporting role in the same movie.

In the past, Denzel Washington was awarded best actor as an antagonist in "Training Day" where he was fitting a stereotype but not in movies such as "Malcolm X" or "The Hurricane."

In 2002, Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball" after showing some skin, according to Richardson.

"This is why this year's Oscars are so important because we have so many movies lined up in each category," said Kourtney Hayslett, a senior computer information major from Marlborough, Maryland.

"'Moonlight' should be awarded because it speaks toward the deeper taboo the audience loves. It touches the LGBTQ community and substance abuse. 'Fences' is a well written playwright starring Denzel and Viola Davis, 'Hidden Figures'. has the women's vote, and the only other movies in the running are 'La La Land,' 'Hacksaw Ridge' with Andrew Garfield, 'Lion,' and 'Hell or High Water.'

"If we don't get awarded this year then it's just plain discrimination."

The Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs on ABC this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

‘Get Out,’ a creepy interracial horror film

By Carly Moon

The NBCUniversal Internship Program will sponsor an advance screening of the movie "Get Out" 7 p.m. Thursday, February 16 p.m. at the Virginia Air and Space Museum Theater in downtown Hampton.

"Get Out" is a Universal Pictures movie produced and directed by Jordan Peele. Peele's genre is typically comedy, but he took a spin and expanded his horizon by creating an interracial horror film.

"I knew 'Get Out' was produced by Jordan Peele, but it's not his traditional genre" said Nia Wellman, a Hampton University sophomore strategic communication major, cinema studies minor from Lithonia, Ga. "It's an actual horror movie opposed to it being a comedy or parody, which he is known for."

According to a fall preview story in the Los Angeles Times, the movie is "creepy as hell."

The interracial thriller involves a young couple who are going to visit the white girlfriend's family for the first time, but when they arrive all of the people of color are missing or in stereotypical jobs such as servants or field workers.

"From the trailers I noticed that the black people are being targeted in negative ways," said Gabriel Lewis a pre-pharmacy major from Hampton, Virginia.

"Get Out" shows the everyday racism sleights and how black people treat them as a part of the cost of existing in the world. The movie's scary and funny scenes may suggest it's time to pay such signals more mind.

"Get Out" is set to open in theaters during Black History Month on Friday, Feb. 24.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications/

When meeting the parents goes wrong. Get Out.

By Timia Whitsey

Imagine that you've just celebrated five months with your new girlfriend and an important milestone in your relationship has approached; it's time to meet her parents.

Most prepare by dressing well and rehearsing their answers to commonly asked questions. But how does one brace themselves to be hypnotized, tortured, and held against their will by their potential in-laws instead?

Comedian and writer Jordan Peele explores the depths of interracial relationships, but from a twisted and satirical perspective in his new movie, "Get Out."

An advance screening of "Get Out" is 7 p.m. Thursday, February 16 at the Virginia Air and Space Museum Theater in downtown Hampton. The official release nationwide is Friday, Feb. 24.

The thriller focuses on a black man who visits his white girlfriend's family for the first time. After a series of eerie events that occur throughout the weekend, he learns that his visit will be far from ordinary, as he must fight to make it out of this sinister suburb alive.

Unlike other popular interracially themed movies such as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" "Get Out" may leave viewers feeling skeptical about dating outside of their race.

"I think [the movie] will discourage interracial dating because it highlights the racial tension in society," said Jessica Williams, a Hampton University MBA major from Houston.

Others see this movie as an opportunity to shed light on a point of view often overlooked.

"People don't realize how intimidating interracial relationships can be from a minority's perspective," said Timothy Guillory of Houston, an ER registrar, "so this allows people to see the other side of it."

Though the movie has gotten most people talking, Carlton Griffin of Atlanta, a Hampton U. cinema studies minor, feels indifferent about the subject.

"I don't ever think I'll date a white woman, but for my brothers that will date white women and my sisters that will date white men, be careful," he said.

Photo courtesy of www.TrailerAddict.com.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications./

‘Human computers’ in skirts showcased at Hampton History Museum

By Montana S. Crider

On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Hampton History Museum will open the "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers" exhibit to the public. Earlier this month, over 200 people visited the museum for the book signing of Margot Lee Shetterly's "Hidden Figures," which is the inspiration for this exhibit.

The display will give the history and share the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Hampton native Mary Jackson, the "human computers" who helped shape how African-American women are seen in the science field today.

"We do not see a lot of women taking on roles in STEM majors, and I think 'Hidden Figures' will inspire a lot of young girls to follow that path," said Morgan Harris, a Hampton University accounting major from New Haven, Connecticut. "This exhibit is another outlet for sharing the history of African-American women that many of us are not told."

The Hampton History Museum has many exhibits that continue to educate the Hampton area on history that is not taught in schools.

Toni Alford, a Virginia native and resident, commended the Hampton History Museum for having exhibits that teach the unspoken: "I come to the Hampton University Museum and the downtown Hampton museum very often, and every time, I learn something new. Who knows, I may learn something that I did not quite catch in the movie or book."

However, Hampton residents are not the only ones looking forward to witnessing the new exhibit. Some Hampton U. students are planning their visits to the Hampton History Museum now. Many have, and many have not seen the movie or read the book, but are looking forward to broadening their knowledge of the so-called human computers.

"I am seeing 'Hidden Figures' this weekend, but I am going to the exhibit first," said Ashanti Barrett, a MBA student from Brooklyn. "My friends think it will ruin the movie, but it will only make it better for me. It is such an inspiring story that I can not get enough of."

Raven Able of Columbia, South Carolina, another Hampton U. student, said of the movie, "I felt many different emotions when watching "Hidden Figures." It was an emotional experience where I felt both empowered and anxious. There were many scenes where I could not help but wonder what kept them going even through such treatment."

"Hidden Figures" tells the story of three women who have now inspired mass audiences and the Hampton History Museum will keep that story alive with its new exhibit, "When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers."

The Hampton History Museum, located at 120 Old Hampton Lane, welcomes the public to view the display, opening Jan. 21. For additional information, contact the museum at 757-727-1610.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

‘Hidden Figures’ author sells out museum book signing

By Trayonna Hendricks

HAMPTON, Virginia -- On Jan. 6, over 200 people wrapped around the Hampton History Museum for author Margot Lee Shetterly's "Hidden Figures" book signing. There were so many supporters in attendance, young and old, all inspired and or curious about the untold story of three black women making a huge contribution to American history right here in Virginia.

Chere Flowers, a Hampton native, said, "This story is enlightening for black women like me who don't know these things about our history. I had to come, especially with the event being here in Hampton at the History Museum, it made it even more appealing."

Alan Marshall, another Virginia native, found it shocking that this story even existed: "I've been here for about 30 years. I've never learned anything like this when I was in school, and I don't think my daughter learned anything like this when she was in high school."

Marshall came to the book signing in hopes of getting an autograph for his daughter, who graduated from Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake and interned at NASA. "Neither of us were familiar with this story until the film came out [but] I know it's a lot of history here in Virginia," said Marshall.

One person who did know about the so-called "human computers" prior to the releasing of this story was NASA Engineering and Safety Center Manager, Jill Prince. She said "There are pictures of them at NASA. I learned about them through word of mouth and found out more through research of my own." While standing in the autograph line with her daughter, Prince said, "I think it's fascinating, encouraging, and inspiring for young girls. I often share the story with students during outreach."

She was not the only one there who wanted to share this story; many people were purchasing and walking around with more than three books each. Fifty minutes into the two-hour event the museum sold out of Shetterly's books -- 200 copies according to the cashier -- and staff redirected buyers to Barnes & Noble, four miles away in the Peninsula Town Center.

Hampton History Museum Curator Allen Holmin said, "We usually only receive about 80 people for a book signing. Margot Lee Shetterly was an exception."

Shetterly's mother, Margaret Lee, was amazed by all of the support her daughter's book received. With tears in her eyes she said, "It's overwhelming, the whole idea. All she wanted was to tell these women story, and it has just blossomed into so much more." Filled with gratitude, Lee, a retired Hampton University English professor, reflected on the story herself and said, "It's a bit of history that up to this point hadn't been told."

According to Lee, seeing the film will teach audiences many lessons about following their dreams and standing up for what they believe is right. "Another lesson in this movie," she said is, "You should never give up on your dreams. You have to have enough courage to follow your dreams in spite of what's going on around you."

Lee hopes the story her daughter has shared inspires others to look into their history. "Ask your elders questions and write down or record what they say," she said. "You never know what stories they have to tell."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Disney’s ‘Queen of Katwe’ a joyful surprise to Hampton U. students

By Maya Wilson

Opening in theatres Friday, Sept. 30, "Queen of Katwe" is a Disney film, made with an all-black cast. The movie was made to shine a positive light and educate its viewers on African culture and feminism.

Based on a true story, the motion picture follows the life of chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi, who became so skilled at the game, her abilities got her out of the slums where she grew up. Mutesi eventually becomes Uganda's first female chess master. In this movie, Disney conveys to their viewers that people should always persevere and follow their dreams to ultimately accomplish their goals.

Students at Hampton University were pleased to hear about this film because the concept is so different from most Disney movies. Finding out about the all-black cast caught a lot of students off guard, including Matthew Dow, a freshman from New Jersey.

"There's no way that Disney is making a movie about an African girl," Dow said. "I'm interested to see how this all plays out."

Critics have said there has been a lack of diversity in Disney projects over the years, but recently the studio have been showcasing different cultures in their films. Not too long ago, the studio announced that their newest Disney Princess is Moana [Thanksgiving 2016] from Polynesia. Most Disney princesses beforehand have been of European descent, with the exceptions such as Mulan [1998] and Tiana [2009] in "The Princess and the Frog."

"Growing up, I rarely saw people in Disney movies who looked like me," said Nathania Hector, a junior from New Jersey. "I'm happy that Disney is making an effort to showcase more of our people."

In "Queen of Katwe," Disney is not only showcasing the talents of African people as a whole, but the talents of an African female in particular. People never expect for a woman to master the game of chess and beat men at the game, thus putting feminism under a positive light. By becoming a Uganda's first female chess master, Mutesi ultimately breaks gender stereotypes about the game.

Disney movies commonly display women waiting for men to come to their rescue. These films have always told women that it is OK to be dependent and spend their whole life, waiting for their knight in shining armor. "Queen of Katwe" is different.

"I think it's important to teach girls to be independent and reach their goals," said Jordan Parker, a junior from Texas. "We have our own aspirations, just as men do. Hopefully, this film conveys the message to those who don't realize."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Birth of the Nation: the reunion, and, answer

By Miah Harris

Students from Hampton University are to attend the "Birth of an Answer" event in Norfolk on Friday, Sept. 18, a forum recognizing the centennial of "The Birth of a Nation."

It could seem rude or uncouth to not acknowledge the original filmmakers who brought the realities of slavery and racism to life, especially in silence. One hundred years later, viewers were reintroduced to D.W. Griffith's, "The Birth of a Nation." Not only did this film set the tone for modern-day movie productions, the film was also a revisionist fantasy of the Reconstruction period.

African Americans were scripted to become dominant suspects to Southern whites, specifically as predators of white women. Critics said the film's deception could easily lead unaware audiences to believe any storyline built. Quite frankly, to some, it was humorously portrayed that way.

According to "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," a PBS documentary, when President Woodrow Wilson first saw the film in 1915, he reportedly said, "It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."

As much as this film brutally brought many African Americans to tears, it surprisingly brought others (dominantly Northern Caucasians) to laughter. This not only led to riots, but even put the historic film in jeopardy of not being released in cities such as Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Minneapolis. Needless to say, Griffith's intense storyline and emotional reaction and response from society continues as a lifelong conversation.

Associate Professor Wayne Dawkins' book review of Dick Lehr's "The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War," described Griffith's work as an "epic film of black denigration and Ku Klux Klan celebration."

Malik Jones, a Hampton U. student from Alpharetta, Ga., said, "This seems like it will be a very interesting event that will address some of the lingering questions behind Birth of a Nation and its impact on not only film as a medium, but the racial tensions and prejudices that are still relevant today."

"Birth of an Answer" Hampton University collaborators include Van Dora Williams, associate professor, journalism, and Eleanor Earl, assistant professor, cinema studies.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Valentine’s Day just got a little ‘Grey’

By Joseph Gaither

Love is in the air. Excitement fills many hearts. Dates are planned. Reservations are made. Teddy bears, chocolates and flowers are now on shelves in stores. You are correct; Valentine's Day is coming. However, along with this day of love comes the highly anticipated release of Focus Features' "50 Shades of Grey" directed by Sam-Taylor Johnson. There has been much excitement and buzz about this movie on the Hampton University campus.

When asked about her Valentine weekend plans, sophomore RoNelsha Miguel of Inglewood, Calif. said, "I do plan on going to see the movie. Initially I had no specific plans of who I was going to see it with, but most likely it will be a girl's night out."

The film is based on the best-selling romance novel by E. L. James, so students were asked if they also read the book. Miguel said, "I read the book when it first came out and loved it! I honestly don't think the movie will be anything like the book, but we will see."

Chya Staton, a senior from Upper Marlboro, Md., said, "I am planning to go see it with my boyfriend. We're going as a part of our date night. I read the book and I hope the movie is able to translate the story line extremely well.

"I think the movie will be pretty good, but I'm not sure if the movie can visually replicate some of the events in the book because it is very risqué."

Sophomores Tierra Crudup and Jamiece Hargrove from Upper Marlboro have decided to see the film with some girlfriends. "I didn't have any specific plans, so I'm going to go see it with my friends and make it a girl's night." said Crudup. "My friends and I decided to go see the movie and go to dinner," said Hargrove.

Both women said they did not read the book but learned from others what took place in the book and expect the movie to be risqué and raunchy.

"From what I heard from those who read the book, it had a lot of sex scenes and it was very risqué," said Hargrove.

"I do plan to go see the movie. It will be a girl's night out," said sophomore Kristina Watkins, of Long Island, N.Y. She read the novel in one day and thoroughly enjoyed it: "I don't really think the movie will have the same storyline as the book, but it will still be a good movie."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

More Entries