By: Jasiah Nelums Reporter

Hidden Figures is the untold story of the black female minds of NASA during the Mercury space project. Hidden Figures1The story is about Katherine Johnson from beginning to end. It takes place in Virginia in 1961 when every mathematical problem was solved by hand, or in this case by the women’s minds — “computers”.

These computers were better known as the African-American female employees who worked about half a mile from everyone else, in the West Wing.

Katherine Johnson, 98, was the main focus of this movie. She was the person who recalled mathematical information that was need to safely take the shuttle out of orbit. In 2015, she was awarded the National Medal Of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

In the movie a lot of problems took place, one concerning Katherine’s friend, Mary Jackson. NASA was having trouble with engineering a space capsule that wasn’t going to fall apart during launch. Mary was required to take night classes to become an extra hand to help solve this problem.

Another problem concerned Mrs. Johnson herself. NASA needed another hand in the mathematical department and Katherine was the only “computer” available.

Segregation was just ending, which is why her office was so far from the other mathematician the East wing. There was a lot of discrimination against African Americans at NASA in the 1960s.  For example, Katherine tried to use the coffee pot and was given harsh stares. Later that week, NASA employees gave her her own pot, but never bothered to fill it or plug it in.

Katherine’s co worker, Paul Stafford, doubted her considerably.  Maybe it was because she was a black female promoted to check his work.

In the end, Katherine found the solution to the orbiting problem and safely returned John Glen and the Friendship 7 spacecraft back to Earth.

Hidden Figures2

From the left: Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, Mary Jackson, played by Janelle Mona`e and Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer.

This movie seems to be very important to the history of NASA, but we’re just now hearing about this. The story of Katherine Johnson isn’t in any science or history book.

“I believe that text books, history to specify, are designed to tell a specific story of the country. It isn’t about analyzing history it’s about learning the facts,” said Matthew Thome, 24. “It [Hidden Figures] doesn’t help stories that textbook authors want to tell. They tell the story of ‘rah rah go America’. Anything that could go against that is wrong, such as things that benefit minorities.”

“There was an effort made on the part of NASA to hide that information from the public. Calling them computers instead of their name sounds like crap to me,” said Thome. “It’s probably coming to light now because of racial tension in media. The story of Hidden Figures is very much apart of this media frenzy over the topic of institutionalized racism.”

According to Chegg Study institutional racism is a pattern of social institutions — such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law — giving negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.