On Monday, May 1, our class watched Hidden Figures to conclude our semester together. The movie was about three black women were “computers,” mathematical calculators, for NASA during the space race against the Soviet Union. The three woman– Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson– all had integral parts helping the United States get ahead in the space race by sending John Glenn into orbit around the earth. Katherine was responsible for doing the calculations for Glenn’s take off, point of reentry, and landing zone. Dorothy was responsible for getting an IBM computer to start working for NASA, also keeping jobs of many other African American female computers by having them work on the computer with her. Mary had responsibilities the with engineering design of the rocket Glen would be in. Throughout this story they faced marginalization for being both African American and female.
This real story relates both semesters of Honors this year, but especially with HON 120. It relates to imagination from the “five ways of knowing” by recreating a story and putting it into real life again. It relates to hearing the voice of the marginalized because this movie and the book it was based it helped give these women the credit they deserved for their work they did for NASA. They all faced discrimination for being African American. Katherine was forced to go a half a mile to use the restroom and drink from a separate coffee pot. Dorothy was not allowed to become a supervisor and check out a certain book from library. Mary was not able to go to college classes she needed to become an engineer until she fought it in court. These women were also marginalized because they were women. Katherine was not able to attend critical meetings for her calculations because she was a woman. Mary was questioned by a professor for attending class because the curriculum was not meant for women. Towards the end though their voices were heard. Katherine’s boss got her clearance to attend the meeting also got rid of the colored bathroom signs and her separate coffee pot. The judge allowed Mary to attend classes at a segregated school. Dorothy was able to become the supervisor of the IBM.
I really enjoyed this movie a lot because it was a story of empowerment for both African Americans and woman. A lot of people probably would not have known about these women unless they knew more about NASA back then. I really liked that we got to see into the personal lives of these women as well. One of my favorite actresses, Octavia Spencer, was Dorothy in the movie playing a sassy woman in the film, which I love. Every film she is in she is sassy, and she does it so well. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the message that this film gave. Katherine’s boss, Al Harrison, said, “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.” To me this film was all about what he said there because we are all the same no matter what race or gender.