By Kim Roth
Hidden Figures is a currently playing movie based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly of the same title. The movie follows three African-American mathematicians, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson, who worked as computer scientists during the race to manned space flight at Langley in Virginia during the 1960s. It is a story of friendship, love, the space race, and living as an African-American woman during segregation. The story is compelling and the accompanying music is great.
For me, as a mathematician, hearing the math was exciting. As a person who knows that racism and segregation have made the lives of African-Americans harder but was not alive during the era of segregation, seeing segregation’s effect on these women’s careers was sad and eye-opening. My eleven-year-old daughter enjoyed the story of the space race and the women, but was shocked to find out that segregation portrayed in the movie was historically accurate, which is a sign that her social studies classes and us need to talk about it more. Go and see it at the Clifton 5 where it is currently showing!