Hidden Figures is a based on the true story of three brilliant women of integrity who were held back and basically ignored in the fields of math and science because they were women, black women. Such bizarre and ludicrous behavior undoubtedly stalled, possibly even damaged projects at NASA.
I cringed watching Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, a young widow with three daughters, required to do mile-long runs to relieve herself because “there’s no colored bathrooms in this building.” Real life Katherine Johnson is 98 years old, known for calculating the trajectories for many NASA missions. In 2015 Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Mary Jackson, played by Janell Monae, shows what happens when brains and determination meet bigotry and pigheadedness. Jackson’s role will undoubtedly serve to motivate others experiencing discrimination.
My favorite of the three is Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer (The Help), whose wit, wisdom and intestinal fortitude eventually knocked down the doors of impossible. Vaughan becomes the first employee supervisor of color in the space program. Oh that audiences everywhere watching Vaughan would strive to emulate those qualities at home and in the workplace.
The film is adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book by the same name. She grew up with many of these brilliant mathematicians around her. Shetterly’s thoughtfully and thoroughly researched book is a read for everyone to be inspired and even more for the revelation of our history that has been as the title says, one of “hidden figures.”