Black History Series | Hidden Figures

As we kick off Black History Month, I want EVERYONE to go see Hidden Figures starring Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson and Janelle Monae (who also starred in another awesome Black-centric movie, Moonlight – which is also out right now to rave reviews). I grew up being introduced to or learning about a prominent figure in Black American history every week. My parents always wanted me to know the history that is hidden. To know that we come from greatness… despite what the world around us may choose to deny or ignore.

The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

Watching the movie made me remember my grandparents struggles to educate themselves when only offered an 8th grade education in the southern black school system… sometimes using books long since out of print.  I’m talking about books from the late 1800’s.  But my grandparents supplemented their learning with books they were able to check out or “steal” from the white section of the library.  There was a scene in the movie that resonated with me when that happened.

Janet Jackson had a song on her 1993 Janet album called A New Agenda.  When people say “why didn’t I learn about this in school???” when reacting to the movie, I refer to Janet’s words to explain…

A New Agenda

History hidden from me
To hide my identity
So I’d never feel
I am somebody
You’ve gouged my eyes
I see more clearly
You’ve tried to rob
My humanity
My spirit you tried to break
My soul you tried to take
There’s no need to be afraid
Cause I won’t do unto you now

Because of my gender
I’ve heard no too many times
Because of my race
I’ve heard no too many times
But with every no
I grow in strength
That is why
African-American woman
I stand tall with pride
You want to know what it takes
To rid yourself of me now
There’s nothing you can do
Accept me for who I am now

All that we’ve been through
Our time has come to rejoice
A new agenda’s due

It’s time to know the truth
Our time has come to rejoice
A new agenda’s due

The Women of Hidden Figures

Katherine G. Johnson : Mathematical genius.  In 2016, NASA dedicated the KGJ Computational building in honor of her groundbreaking work in Space Travel.  She was also instrumental in getting us to the Moon.

Mary Jackson : America’s first black aeronautical engineer

Dorothy Vaughan : The first black supervisor at NASA