As a retired mathematics teacher, I took great pride in watching three brilliant African-American women help launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The film focuses on the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a mathematical prodigy whose grasp of analytic geometry makes her indispensable to NASA.
But Katherine’s workplace environment is far from pleasant.
As the only female mathematician in a sea of white men, she is barely tolerated by her colleagues and forced to endure indignities. I couldn’t believe her half-mile trek to the “colored” bathroom in a separate building and the “colored” coffee pot that was designated for her use. Thankfully, Director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) intervenes.
Acting office supervisor (without the proper title or pay), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) deals with an unsympathetic superior (Kirsten Dunst), who accepts and promotes the idea that segregation is “just the way things are.”
Feisty Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) faces discrimination at all levels when she applies to the engineer training program at the University of Virginia.
Eyes riveted to the screen, I alternated between goose bumps and brimming tears, as I watched these ‘60s women surmount challenges and receive the respect and recognition they rightfully deserved. Photos of the actual women in the closing credits add to the authenticity of this larger-than-life film.