Hidden No Longer: The Pure #BlackGirlMagic In “Hidden Figures”
The Oscar nominations came out today, and three black films were nominated for Best Picture — Moonlight, Fences, and Hidden Figures. Each of these films does a beautiful job of exploring different facets of the black experience, but I was most inspired by #theblackgirlmagic seen in Hidden Figures.
The film, which is based on the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win The Space Race, chronicles the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, the four black women who made John Glenn’s historic orbit around the Earth possible.
As I watched the film, I became infuriated that I never heard of these women and their long-lasting contributions to NASA, but I also felt that their story became public at the perfect time. These women were able to succeed, thrive, live, love and achieve their dreams at a time when Jim Crow was running rampant, and discussions about women’s rights, especially black women’s rights, weren’t at the forefront of American society.
The scene that touched me the most was when Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) stole a book on how to program an IBM computer from the white library in her town. Vaughn noticed that no one at NASA knew how to use the IBM, and seized an opportunity to make herself invaluable since human “computers” were on the verge of becoming obsolete.
Vaughn’s work was noticed, and she was offered the supervisor position she’d been working to get for years. But she did something that truly wowed me — she said she wouldn’t take the position unless she could bring her sisters with her, all of whom she trained on how to program the computer.
My eyes swelled with tears as I saw all those gorgeous, intelligent black women marching half a mile to the main NASA building to take their new positions as programmers.
This scene showed me what we all need to do in this new era of Donald Trump — he’s threatening women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, human rights, and the rights of the poor and disenfranchised. It seems that with each stroke of his pen, the rights we’re losing ground on what we and our ancestors have fought for, and it’s downright scary.
But, if we can ban together and take care of each other like Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden were able to, we’ll be able to do more than withstand these next four years. We’ll be able to do as they did — succeed, live, love, thrive and achieve our dreams of a better tomorrow for all.
Have you seen Hidden Figures? What lesson(s) did you take from the movie?