It has been said that there has never been a time in history as tumultuous as the 1960’s. I was in the midst of my formative years, and yes, was exposed to (in no particular order) the questioning of our status quo, a change in the ethnicity and idealism of the Kennedy Presidency, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the fear of nuclear war by “the Ruskies,” the cultural change to hippie free love, flower power, the use of mind-altering drugs, the re-introduction of bell-bottomed jeans, the race riots of the South, the Vietnam War, Kent State, an explosion of musical talent from Great Britain influencing American culture and music, Woodstock Music Festival and the Watergate break-in, the start of the downfall of President Nixon.
How is it possible with this former explosion of change, we dare to rant and rave about the political events of 2017?
No movie is perfect in its storytelling pitted against factual events. It can’t be, for movies are by nature entertainment vehicles. But, I believe if you stay true to the spirit of the time, capturing major events and people’s lives with integrity and send a message from which audiences can learn in the technological multimedia world of today, you may have created a timeless work for all to endlessly enjoy!
This is all to introduce the spectacular movie, “Hidden Figures,” The untold story of the brilliance of three women who just happen to be women of color, who were the real movers and shakers of our space program who NEVER got the credit! The human drama; the discrimination of the 60s and the integrity and class of these women is unmatched. The acting and story were so moving! John Glenn and many others owe their careers to them.
This narrative is not meant to give away the story as a whole, the plot or the most emotional moments of the film, of which there are many. Rather, it is meant to say that these women played very non-traditional roles in compassion to those white women who rose through the ranks through the usual channels in a man’s world featured in my previous blog, Success and Trauma-Three Women in Space.
Katherine Johnson, (1918-__) a brilliant mathematician, who ultimately with her analytical mind, enabled NASA to excel in many ways, including providing trajectory analysis for space missions (including at John Glenn’s request in 1962);
Mary Jackson, (1921-2005) began as a school teacher and later convinced a judge in a groundbreaking ruling to allow her to obtain pre-requisite courses in an all white school in Virginia;
Dorothy Vaughn, (1910-2008) a math teacher who dutifully supervised “colored colleagues” in the colored computer unit for years without the title and pioneered the use of Fortran, an initial computer language as an expert programmer.
The definition of oppression – Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Prolonged oppression can lead to frustration, depression, anger and violence. There were many examples in “Hidden Figures.” The lack of recognition for women, particularly those of color, demeaning comments, lack of sufficient bathroom facilities, lack of inclusion, lack of respect, lack of humanity, and very low wages, just to name a few.
Can we now say that we have come so far from that era? In some ways yes, however, take it from one who has experienced much discrimination, there is still much discrimination in our country, both subtle and blatant. Perhaps we have just chosen to focus on other types of discrimination in 2017. The prime example, Katherine was called a “computer” throughout, as in Noun – person, place, THING. How more demeaning can you get? If not for amazing resiliency, patience and standing up and acting like an “uppity colored” in a few instances, Katherine, Mary and Dorothy NEVER would have made it.
Below I share two scenes, simply to contrast the typical versus a pivotal ground breaking moment in this film.
Trailer # 1-
Do go to your nearest movie theater to see it! “Hidden Figures” will horrify, amaze and delight!
Post Script – If you are curious – What’s Next for NASA? Read this –https://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html
References – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-story-of-nasas-real-ldquo-hidden-figures-rdquo/
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VERY WELL SAID – A MOVIE WORTH WATCHING!