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hidden-figuresLast week, Sen. John Glenn, a former astronaut and American hero, died while on an exploration trip. His fame rose in the 1960s, a decorated militS.Sary superhero, but it wasn’t until he leaped historic bounds as the first U.S. astronaut launched in orbit.

As the scientific team of engineers and the nation’s leading mathematicians worked diligently for NASA, we saw countless documentaries and films showing short-sleeved, white-shirt-wearing white males taking credit for launching humans in space.

What many school textbooks lacked was the truth of who the team of scientists turned to in achieving the most difficult mathematical analysis to set the course for the future of NASA programs.

Based on the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, the story is brought to the big screen revealing the lives of the people who, for years, have played a major role at NASA. 

The film Hidden Figures follows three educated women who represent a group of 30 plus African-American women who are hired as human computers, calculating data as NASA prepares to transition to the world of digitization in the 1960s.

The real life story of Katherine Johnson played by Taraji P. Henson was beautifully captured as it showed the natural love and ability of solving mathematical problems as a young girl, the dedication of her family to support her gift — relocating from the South to the inner-city North.

Oscar-award winning actress Octavia Spencer (The Help) showcases her familiar sense of humor with the determination of leading the women while supporting her friends. Her performance of Dorothy Vaughn is the glue that seals in the loyal friendship of Johnson and Mary Jackson, played by Janelle Monae. Spencer is nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

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Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer

In a time where race relations are still very raw and real, it was over five decades that this historic event took place. The story sets place in Alexandria, Virginia, where the women commute daily to work in an era when segregation was woven into the society’s fabric. As the we follow the lives of these three brilliant women’s contributions, the story also takes us along the harsh reality of separatism throughout the workplace from the “colored” bathrooms to Johnson’s “colored” coffeepot.

Directed by Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures displays a solid all-star cast that brings together the flow of storytelling that embodies the importance of acknowledging this wealth of history. Great performances by Oscar-award winning actor Kevin Costner; The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst — who reminds us of her on-screen chemistry with Octavia Spencer on The Help. 

The powerful bond that these women share as they unknowingly create a pathway for so many after them also showcases the resilient strength of their spouses, are played by Aldis Hodge Mahershala Ali.

As the film industry prepares for upcoming award ceremonies, Hidden Figures is at the top of the list for nominee considerations before its Dec. 25 opening. 

It is not a mistake or hype why it would be at the top of the list because it’s just that good. Hidden Figures is a film that encompass life lessons, loss, renewal, inspiration and challenges while taking you through an important era of American history. Released nationwide in theaters on Christmas Day, it’s a wonderful gift that you’ll enjoy unwrapping.

Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter

 

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