‘Hidden Figures’ explores racism in America


Jamie Pellikaan, Co-Editor

1961. America is locked in a race with Russia to put a man in space. But, in a time that America is literally shooting for the moon, millions are being discriminated against just because of their skin color.

Enter Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe).

When these women couldn’t even sit in front of a bus they were working in NASA’s Langley, Va., campus at a time when computers weren’t doing the computing, humans were.

“Hidden Figures,” directed by Theodore Melfi, follows the true story of these three women, particularly Johnson, as they battle discrimination and prejudice just to have a job.

Spencer’s character fought to secure the salary and job title she deserved, and Monáe’s fought for her right to be admitted into advanced courses at an all-white school so she could apply to be an engineer at NASA.

However, the main storyline of the movie explores how fundamental Johnson was to the success of the Friendship 7 mission when John Glenn orbited the Earth three times. It tells the story about how her mathematical prowess was quintessential to finding the necessary go-no-go point that was key to ensuring Glenn’s safe return back to Earth.

“Hidden Figures” dedicates itself to celebrating the unsung heroes of this time in American history, and parallels these individuals’ struggle for equality with African Americans’ struggle for equality as a whole. This parallel opens the viewers eye to the struggle for basic rights and how demeaning and unsympathetic society was.

The movie’s message about discrimination is also resounding as it can be connected to what America is experiencing today and reminds each and every person that it wasn’t that long ago when segregation was legal and that there are still some who wish to practice it.

However, the movie utilizes animation to display the rocket launch and the orbit of Glenn. The animation leaves much to be desired and detracts from the overall cinematography of the film.

The supporting cast consists of Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Kevin Costner and Glen Powell.

“Hidden Figures” storyline has a profound impact that can’t be dimmed.