Monae, Henson & Spencer

MOVIE REVIEW: Why “Hidden Figures” is a Modern Problem

Hidden Figures tells the remarkable true story of three women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson) who broke race and gender barriers at NASA to play a part in the space race. It features wonderful performances by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, as well as a return to form for Kevin Costner. There’s also a lovely and unexpected tribute to John Glenn, played by Scream Queens‘ Glen Powell. Director Theodore Melfi doesn’t dig too deeply into the Civil Rights Movement, but he does remind us of the ugly realities of the time (like segregated bathrooms and office spaces). Even Katherine Johnson was forced to drink from a separate coffee maker while working at NASA, despite the important work she did alongside white men and women there.

Hidden Figures is a text-book crowd pleaser, with lovable actors playing remarkable people who changed the world, but it also brings to mind the women it doesn’t mention. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson managed to get the education they needed to reach their full potential, but what about those who couldn’t? It’s easy to shake our heads in frustration while observing the bigotry of the past, but segregation is alive and well today, especially in our education system. In fact, recent studies show minimal change in the achievement gaps between black and white students (read more about that HERE). That’s in comparison to studies conducted in the 1960s. Schools are also more segregated than ever now, despite the sixty-two year old Brown v. the Board of Education ruling (read more HERE). This means that many students are STILL not getting the tools they need to succeed academically in 2016.

Is it possible that we have forgotten WHY it’s important to educate our children? Sure, we want them build careers after graduation, but we also need them to make our world a better place. Kids need the best education possible so they can go on to find vaccines, advance technologies or, in the case of Hidden Figures, help conquer space. What has society MISSED in the years of holding back women like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson? We need to ensure that African-American girls have all the tools they need to succeed academically, and the reasons are NOT just altruistic. No, we need to make sure that all kids have a fair shake at the best education possible because EVERY brilliant mind is needed in our world, regardless of the skin it’s in.
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Hidden Figures will open in select cities December 26th, then expand January 6th. Find tickets HERE.
(Mommy-Movie-Review: Families should know that Hidden Figures is rated PG and PERFECT to share with kids, thanks to excellent messages about equality and self-confidence. It also offers important history lessons about the Civil Rights Movement and the space race. There are some scary images of racism and violence against protestors, but they also represent the realities of the day. I watched Hidden Figures with my 9 and 12-year-old daughters and they both loved it immensely, especially Taraji P. Henson.)

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