My Rating ∞/ 5
“This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins. Every time.”
-Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures SAG Awards Acceptance Speech
Based on the novel of the same name (Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly) this 2016 film tells the story of 3 inspirational Black women who worked in the NASA space program in the prime of the Civil Rights movement. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were the 3 central characters of this film. Although centered around Mrs. Johnson’s work to get astronaut John Glenn into space, the movie shares the struggles and defeats these 3 brilliant women faced.
Katherine Johnson was the only female working to put astronaut John Glenn into space. Despite her being a completely credible mathematician, she was discredited not just for her race, but for her gender as well. In her time calculating for the mission, Katherine Johnson outperformed all the men in the department. Performing calculations when the rest of the men in the room were stumped at where to begin. She was so brilliant and respectable that before he even entered the rocket ship, John Glenn requested that Katherine Johnson “check the numbers” to make sure her would enter space safely and return back to Earth. Her male colleagues discredited her based upon her gender at first, but it wasn’t until she helped to put a man into space did she really start to get the respect she deserved.
Mary Jackson started as one of NASA’s computers in the program but knew she was meant for more. She wanted to apply for an engineering position at NASA but never met the “proper qualifications.” She needed to obtain a certain degree, but the only way she could do this was attending a segregated White School. Not letting this stop her, Mary Jackson took her case to court AND WON! This historic moment made her NASA first Black Female engineer.
Last, but certainly not least is Dorothy Vaughan a mathematician and the first Black woman to supervise a staff at the West Area Computing Unit, otherwise known as the West Area Computers. These computers were a group of all African-American female mathematicians who were kept separate than the other computers due to the laws of segregation at the time.
This movie is absolutely amazing and deserves all the compliments it gets. This isn’t a movie just about race and shaming the ways of the past, this is the story of 3 extraordinary women who faced prejudice but still overcame every obstacle thrown their way. It is a movie meant to empower all of its viewers and remind us that no matter what evil lies ahead of us, love wins Every. Single. Time.