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Hidden Figures

Keira Tellado

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 This movie is based on true events and focuses on three African American women who helped launch John Glenn to orbit around Earth.  It is the remarkable story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine G. Johnson.

           Before the development of electronic computers, the term “computer” referred to people, not machines. It was a profession, designating someone who performed mathematical equations and calculations by hand.  They were appointed to the segregated “West Area Computing” division, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were formerly required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities.  The three of them grew into positions of prominence, through hard work and overcoming adversity.

           Dorothy Vaughan was a no-nonsense woman, fighting for the position of supervisor.  She took her problem into her own hands by taking out a book on FORTRAN, and learning how to use the new IBM computing machine.  Mary Jackson wanted to be the first African American engineer at NASA, but she had to take a certain class from the segregated Hampton High School.  She needed special permission to attend the class, so she took her case to court.  Upon winning her case, she completed the courses, earned the promotion, and became NASA’s first African American female engineer.

           As NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine G. Johnson was sent to a room full of white male mathematicians to assist in some rocket science.  While calculations had stumped everyone, Katherine was stumped by segregation.  She suffered through mile long runs just to use the only bathroom available for colored women.  Glenn was wary of putting his life in the accuracy of the calculating machine, so as a part of the preflight checklist, he called upon Katherine to run through and verify the numbers of the IBM equations.  “If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go,” he said.  Glenn’s mission was successful and marked a turning point in the race to space between Russia and America.

           All in all, the three women had to go through a lot to achieve their goals, but they never gave up, making sure that they got what they wanted and deserved.  They were truly proof that it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, white or black, you could achieve anything you put your mind to.  Hidden Figures is an inspirational and moving story that will touch the hearts of everyone.  I really enjoyed it, and think that many others will too.

If you would like to learn more:

https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/article/18414387/hidden-plain-sight-african-american-women-helped-land-man-moon

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a24429/hidden-figures-real-story-nasa-women-computers/

Song from the Movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jXQBMNe01c

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Hidden Figures