By Kendall Howze & Jackie Lyons
This winter, Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures came to theaters and captured the triumph of three African-American women, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, as they fought for civil and female rights in 1960s Virginia. The movie begins with the three mathematicians working in the negro computer department at NASA, until Johnson and Jackson are given special assignments. Throughout the movie, Jackson works towards becoming an engineer. However, in order to become an engineer, she needs to take a class at an all white school. Johnson works in a room full of mostly male, caucasian mathematicians trying to build a shuttle to send into space. Meanwhile, Vaughan fights for the title of supervisor of the computer department. She has all the responsibility of the supervisor, but without the pay. These three women will go on to conquer each of these challenges caused by both racism and sexism.
Overall, this is movie very inspiring and enlightening regarding the struggles that not only blacks had to face in the working world of the 1960s, but women as well. Each actor captured the struggle of this specific time period. Hidden Figures takes on a different version of the African American struggle that has not been captured much in recent films. It focuses on the sexism from white males and occasionally black males that is often overlooked. Junior Tyler Hebron shared that she thought the movie “took on a new perspective,” mainly in terms of the insight it gave about African Americans working at NASA in the 60s. This take on their struggle is unique in comparison to the most recently made films about black life in the 1960s. Many do not focus on the struggle it is to not only be black in a racist, segregated U.S., but a black woman.
Many found the movie to be inspiring. The movie reached people that not only experienced the prejudice and challenges of the 60s, but spoke to people of many ages. Junior Imani Nokuri said the movie “shows that no matter where you come from, who you are, or how people treat you, if you relentlessly work at something you’re passionate about, you will succeed above everyone else-- regardless of any setbacks.” Nokuri’s words genuinely embody the overall message that Hidden Figures wanted its viewers to understand. Every student is encouraged to see this movie, and hopefully it will be as inspiring to you as it is to us.