On the latest edition of Cinema in Noir, my co-hosts and I discussed women of color in period films. It didn’t take long for the discussion to turn to HIDDEN FIGURES. As you probably know by now, the film centers around the three brilliant African American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson aided in the successful launch of John Glenn into space. HIDDEN FIGURES is a very important film.
The Black Girl Magic in HIDDEN FIGURES runneth over. The cast is superb and the story is historical, but relevant. I can’t count how many times during the course of the film I uttered an audible “amen” or nodded my head in silent agreement. No, I have never had to walk a mile to use the restroom at work. But I identified with the struggles of doing a job without the title or pay that aligns with the duties involved or having someone try to minimize your contributions to a project. HIDDEN FIGURES is a rallying cry to anyone whose had their contributions trivialized in the workplace.
History Herstory Month comes to a close, here are three hidden figures who deserve to have their stories told.
HIDDEN FIGURES shows little girls of color that despite what people say, they can succeed in science and math. Alexa Canady attended a summer program focused on health careers and decided to pursue medicine. Although, she originally aspired to be in doctor of internal medicine but later became fascinated by neurosurgery. Despite being discourage from the field, Dr. Canady persisted and became the first black woman neurosurgeon in the United States.
If you know me, you know I LOVE North Carolina Central University. One of the most distinguished former professors is Rose Butler Browne. Back when my alma mater was the North Carolina College, Dr. Browne worked tirelessly to educate students of color. Her journey began years before as she fought for her own education. While working full-time as a maid, she earned her bachelors degree in Rhode Island. Ultimately, she became the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in education. She received it from Harvard.
The recent #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag was partially inspired a condescending and disrespectful remark made to journalist April Ryan by the White House Press Secretary. It is a reminder of the challenges that black women journalist face daily. Alice Allison Dunnigan is a journalist whose story deserves to be told. As the first African American woman to get White House Credentials and the first black female member of the Senate of House of Representative press galleries, Dunnigan faced many challenges. Most noteworthy, she had to cover Senator Taft’s funeral from the servant’s quarters.
What other HIDDEN FIGURES do you want see on the big screen?