February 24, 2017
The term “hidden figures” can mean many things to several different people. But to Theodore Melfi, the director of the movie “Hidden Figures”, it means the true story of three indubitably smart African American women who helped John Glenn be successful in the orbiting of the Earth three times prior to returning safely. This movie was released on Dec. 25, 2016. The film made a huge impact in women, men, and children throughout the country. The movie highlights three of the most brilliant minds of NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson.
In Melfi’s mind, these women were overlooked and are just now being recognized for it. The film exposes to society how women and African Americans were treated in times earlier than ours. Women had to work harder than men to get acknowledged and treated with the same respect. It speaks about the constant wars of races and how African American women had to take a stand against what was expected of them.
“Hidden Figures” follows how the three women were treated back then, such as having to run two miles to get to the colored bathroom because there was not a bathroom for colored people in the area where she was promoted. Katherine Johnson, one of the protagonists, had a brilliant mind in mathematics and geometry that contributed to NASA; she stayed after work, solving equations no one else in her division could solve, and writing reports. Paul Stafford, her co-worker, hated her and did everything in his power to prevent her from succeeding. On the other hand, her boss, Al Harrison, had no problem with her being African American. When she complained about the colored restrooms, he immediately took action by taking down the ‘colored’ bathroom sign, and began enforcing the policy “that a bathroom is a bathroom” and that everyone can go to whichever restroom they preferred.
Theodore Melfi did a fantastic job in casting the film. Taraji P. Henson portrayed Katherine Johnson, the extremely smart mathematician. Octavia Spencer starred as Dorothy Vaughn, a woman who can operate machines like no other. Lastly, Janelle Monae played Mary Jackson, the finest engineer at NASA. Al Harrison, the head of Dorothy’s division, was portrayed by Kevin Costner, and Paul Stafford, Katherine’s co-worker, was played by Jim Parsons.
Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn are important people, as well as characters. Mary Jackson was the first African American woman to be accepted into an all white and all male college, due to the fact that she needed to take a course for her to become an engineer at NASA. Dorothy Vaughn, along with her co-workers, are the first people at NASA to operate a machine known as IBM that could calculate over 26,000 multiplications per second.
“Hidden Figures” is an intriguing, exposing and emotional film that will keep audiences at the edges of their seats. Viewers loved the film and were appalled by the behavior of society against African American women. For example, one of the most touching scenes was when Katherine Johnson stood up for herself, screaming that she doesn’t have a bathroom, and that she needs to drink from a coffee pot that no one in her division wants to touch since she is the only colored person in the workplace. In the end, Katherine Johnson solves an important math equation that confirms John Glenn’s point of landing, and is respected by her workers. This enticing story brings to light hidden information and gives credit to three brave American women.