Three Hidden Figures Who Helped NASA Take-Off

A look inside the film that showcased the efforts of three groundbreaking women.


Hidden Figures Movie via The Lyric Theatre

A Look Back Through History

The film Hidden Figures depicts the untold story of three black women whose groundbreaking contributions to science were hidden from the world until now. On January 6, 2017, 20th Century Fox released Hidden Figures, a biographical drama film that exposes the “Space Race” between the U.S. and Russia. It is essential to look back through history and recognize the key figures who helped accomplish significant breakthroughs for society. Hidden Figures attains this goal of making history relevant by examining the accomplishments of three “Hidden Figures” who made the United State’s 1969 journey to space possible.

Workplace Discrimination

The film focuses on three black female scientists’ journeys without whom the Apollo 11  trip to the moon and back would not have been possible. The movie takes place in 1961 in Virginia, where a NASA research center is based. The film calls attention to the discriminatory rules and practices against people of color that were commonplace in the era depicted. It particularly highlights the racism that African Americans endured while working hard to contribute to breakthroughs in science despite receiving little recognition in return. The movie is centered around three black women, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, who faced segregation because of their sex and race.

Strength Through Friendship

Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, is a mathematician with passion for her work since her youth. Her intelligence was one of her most admirable qualities. However, her intellect was constrained by the “separate but equal” sentiments. Similar circumstances held back Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, as they struggled to make their place in the NASA research center, even with their brilliant minds. The women faced a plethora of challenges solely due to the color of their skin. The three women, who became friends through their shared struggles, had very different personalities, as Vaughan was practical, Jackson was wise and witty, and Johnson was a clever optimist. However, their racial and gender identities and strength of friendship bonded them together as they faced racial injustice from their co-workers. 

Prejudice in the Present

The movie is still relevant in 2021 when the racial tensions are heightened. The film takes the initiative in providing greater awareness and an inside look to those who have never struggled from prejudice or racial injustice, as it identifies the struggles faced by black women and sends a powerful message to all women that their resilience and intelligence are most meaningful to their character.