How ‘Hidden Figures,’ Unites A Divided America

Genius has no race. Strength has no gender. Courage has no limit.

Let me just say it: I loved the movie Hidden Figures. I loved it. I loved it so much I could not wait to tell the whole world why I do (without spoiling it for those who have not yet seen it). First, I want to encourage every American family (not just African-American families) to go and see the movie with your daughters, nieces and friends. Take your sons, too, because they are of an age and time that they will work with women, for women and around women all of their lives. Second, men, you will love this film too because it takes you inside the space program of the 1960s. It is reminiscent of America’s glory days gone by when John F. Kennedy was our nation’s handsome young President, and John Glenn (just recently deceased) was America’s great space hero. The movie takes those of us not yet born at the time back to an era of racial segregation in the south, intact black families, church picnics, courtships, and a vision for all that America could still be. We had our problems, but this movie underscores what I have been screaming from the rafters for the past year: E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One.

The Movie takes us inside NASA and the fledgling space program of the early 1960s, and centers around the lives of three African American women who work as “computes” in the space program. All college graduates and all members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (my sorority). They, of course were women of color in a white man’s world at the time, and beyond that they experience “race gender” issues with their white sisters who did not look out for their best interests either. They were fighting on all fronts, as is still common even in 2017 (Read my first book, “Black Woman Redefined”). Yet, the movie is not really about that, the movie is a story of overcoming obstacles, seeing past skin color, gender, and class to work as “ONE” team of devoted Americans to put the first American into orbit and ultimately to the Moon. It is a movie we desperately need in our current 21st Century times of division, talk of Russian cyber hacking, racial and gender inequality, and on and on.

Here are three things I loved about the movie and great take-aways that I hope people can grab onto:

  • Strong men can love smart, strong women. I loved this most about the movie. I have met Katherine Johnson (she is still alive at 97 years of age) and she is just as impressive now as she must have been then. Her story as told in the movie (I will not give all of it away) is one of a woman who was brilliant, a widow, had three young children, worked at NASA, and was ahead of her time. Not too many men would want to court and marry such a woman. Yet she found love again. And they endured through the seasons of their lives. And all of the women in the movie were smart, strong, and had great husbands encouraging and supporting their dreams. Man, where have those men gone. . .

  • Americans put America first. Even at times when our country has been badly divided. Or segregated. We always pull together for the good of America. That is the real theme of this movie: that powerful white men had to get past their biases and ego and allow a black woman in the room who was smarter, and who could show them the way to get it done. They all worked as a team, but the black women had to deal with the bigotry of segregation to get their jobs done, even the soft bigotry of white women. There is a key scene you will recognize that illustrates this point. But there was also redemption. The redemption of growing, and getting past fear and prejudices and doing what is right. We of our time need to grow up and take note. If they can work through the evil and humiliation of segregation for the good of America, we now of our post-segregated time should be able to do so much more.

  • There is a code of sisterhood between women. This movie is sisterhood on steroids. The women in this movie looked out for each other. Shared information with each other. Helped each other. Protected each other’s jobs. Families. Marriages. There was a CODE. And they all SOARED because they all LIFTED. It was simply heart warming. I cried, a lot. And I do not cry. Because we need women like this again. Particularly black women like this again. These women, Ms. Vaughn’s character was the mother protector of her sisters. She was forward thinking. She learned valuable information and she did not keep it to herself or just elevate herself. She helped others climb higher too. That is sisterhood!

Go see Hidden Figures; it will bless you and your entire family. But more than that it will teach you about the greatness of America. And the greatness and heights that we can achieve as a nation when we dare to look beyond our differences and focus instead on our collective vision.

 

Make sure you pick up a copy of my new book, E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders Vision for a United America (Center Street, January 17, 2017). Pre Order Here.

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