Over the weekend I finally saw Hidden Figures and I really enjoyed it. As someone who loves math, science, and technology, I really wanted to see more about the people who made our ventures into space possible. It is a movie about people that history tried very hard to ignore and forget.
When the space race began, multitudes of people were needed to figure out the science and math necessary to not only get us into space, but also to safely return. This is the story of three strong willed and very intelligent women who assisted with the math and engineering behind that effort.
In the highly segregated 1960’s, although the three worked for NASA, they lived and endured a culture that assumed the worst of them because of their skin color. The movie follows some of their struggles as they try to be heard and make a difference in the world around them.
Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji Henson) was a “computer” or a person who perform mathematical computations. She was part of a group of black women who formed the West Area Computing group. A brilliant mathematician, she fought to prove her worth and find solutions to problems that NASA had been previously unable to solve, such as identifying the point where John Glenn (play by Glen Powell) would have to reenter the atmosphere in to arrive safely in the landing zone. She worked closely with Al Harrison, the director of the Space Task Group (played by Kevin Costner) and Paul Stafford, the task group’s head engineer (played by Jim Parsons). Through her, those two realized old prejudices hindered, not helped. A quote from Al Harrison in the movie: “Here at NASA, we all pee the same color.”
Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) was another “computer” who filled in the role of supervisor for the West Area Computing group, though she did not have the title or pay. She struggled to prove her worth and as NASA brought in the “IBM”, a mainframe intended to replace the need for human computers, she taught herself, and the rest of the woman in the West Area Computing group, the Fortan language, ensuring both the success of the mainframe, as well as the West Area Computing group.
Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe) was a “computer” assigned to the engineering group working on the Friendship 7 capsule. With the prompting and assistance of Karl Zielinski (played by Olek Krupa), Mary decides she wants to become an engineer at NASA and begins her fight against the numerous obstacles a black woman in the 1960’s would face in doing so. As a result, Mary established a number of “first” in the state of Virgina as well as for NASA.
I try to avoid pushing too many political opinions, but in this case, I would rate this movie as a must see for everyone. Regardless of the strides and improvements we have achieved in the last 50 years, we have yet to truly establish an equal and just society here in the USA. It was less than 100 years ago that women in the USA were granted the right to vote (18 Aug 1920 through the 19th Amendment).We really need to make sure we do not pause, or worse, take a step backward, when it comes to treating people equally and with respect and dignity. Hidden Figures shows what a group of black women accepted and endured so that they could improve their lives, the lives of others, and show dedication to their country. There are
We really need to make sure we do not pause, or worse, take a step backward, when it comes to treating people equally and with respect and dignity. Hidden Figures shows what a group of black women accepted and endured so that they could improve their lives, the lives of others, and show dedication to their country. There are many more people out there today who have something useful to say, they just need to be allowed to say it. Hopefully, by seeing the absurdity of the rules that oppressed these fine women, who went on to become pioneers and leaders in their field, we can continue to sway opinions today.
I give Hidden Figures 5 out of 5 stars.