The Ladies of NASA
By Baylee Toney
The drama/history film follows the true story of the African-American trio of women whose brains were the platform for one of NASA’s most complex operations of launching John Glenn into orbit during the Space Race.
After Russia had successfully sent an astronaut to space, there was rising pressure to launch an American astronaut into space. This led NASA to hire mathematicians who could serve as human computers and assist the organization in making American history. Although at this time segregation was still a controlling factor in society, race stereotypes were quickly re-examined after the African-American women proved their intelligence to be crucial in the 1962 orbital mission.
The three women who served as the scientists behind the new project for NASA were Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Katherine Johnson worked in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center, and became the first colored women to work in the department, where there was no separate bathroom for her. Johnson did not allow the segregation to get in the way of her work, taking her equations with her as she ran to the nearest colored bathroom several blocks away from her building. During the course of the film, and of history, Johnson develops an equation that would potentially guide the newest space capsule into a safe re-entry.
Mary Jackson was an aspiring engineer for NASA but did not have her degree. The only school she could receive her engineering degree from was an all-white school, which is when she develops a passion for helping other women advance in their careers. The movie follows Jackson as she pushes the engineering departments’ boundaries by finding flaws in their experiments, and fights segregation laws in the pursuit of her dream of becoming a licensed engineer.
Dorothy Vaughan was an unofficial supervisor that could not be promoted due to the color of her skin. She was responsible for the group of colored women who worked in the West Area of the Programming Department. The film tells the story of her journey in becoming the first colored supervisor in NASA.
Hidden Figures is a fresh and inspiring spin on the amazing story of the powerful women who contributed to one of the most historical events in US History. It is also an absolute eye-opener to the cruelty and prevalence of segregation in America during this time.
Hidden Figures gets 4 out of 5 stars for telling a true story from decades ago in a way that touched hearts and inspired women to chase their dreams no matter how big or small they might be.