Three Major Lessons In The Film “Hidden Figures”

By: Denishea Bright

Hidden Figures is a film based in the 1960’s, but when watching the film and paying attention to the major themes that were shown, an important realization is made. All of the characters went against the grain and did the unusual or unheard of even for today’s times. Some of the things that these women did back then are things that a lot of us don’t always do in this day and time.

Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson who was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson was undervalued by her coworkers even though she was very much a part of the wheel that kept the machine operating and very instrumental in astronaut John Glenn’s launch into space. Singer-Actress Janelle Monae played Mary Jackson who had to work to knock down the barriers that blocked her from becoming an engineer. Octavia Spencer played Dorothy Vaughn who fought to become a supervisor for NASA. This film was one of the most inspirational films this year and these are the important lessons that were taught in this film.

Lesson #1

Stop Complaining and Do Something

In the film, there is a scene where Mary Jackson is with Katherine G. Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn playing cards. Mary is going on and on about how Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) and the rules outlined in the employee handbook blocks her from going forward in the company and becoming an aerospace engineer. Finally, Dorothy has had enough and she basically tells Mary to stop complaining and do something about it. She even tells her to go and petition the court and later Mary does that exactly. This was a pivotal moment in not only the history of black women in America, but this is also a moment that so many people need to have in the world today. All three of these women were the first of many black women who decided to achieve their dreams despite the people, laws, and rules that were making it close to impossible for them to achieve. How many of us sit around and complain, but never do anything about our issues? I think we’ve all done it at least at one time in our lives. Some of us are serial complainers who never go on to make the first step to gaining something that we strongly desire. Take notice of the negative moments and make a decision right there to do something about it. What is on the other side of the fear can be something beautiful if we actually take the necessary action. We need to challenge ourselves to push fear aside, to take action, and revisit the feeling of fear (if any) afterwards when the action has already been done.

Lesson #2

Get Away From the Individualistic Mentality

Although Mary was shut out by the company from getting ahead as an engineer, Dorothy was finally given the opportunity to advance in the company as a supervisor. When she was presented with the offer she made it a condition that all of the other black women computers come along with her. Prior to the job offer, she snuck off on her own to learn about the IBM for job security purposes and taught what she had learned to her community. She took hold of the hand of her employer and used her other hand to pull everyone else up along with her. Naturally, we as Americans are known as being individualistic whereas we look out for ourselves individually before we look out for the best interest of the rest of our community. We want to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but it’s also okay to take care of the people around us as well.

Lesson #3

Always Do Your Best Work

Sometimes when you base your decision process around the entire group instead of yourself as an individual it can result in an even greater reward. Katherine wasn’t recognized until much later in the film, but she never let it stop her from doing her best work. Most would have given up or quit their jobs over the things that Katherine dealt with. Not only did she have to use a colored bathroom in a completely different building than the building that she worked in, but she was blocked off from doing her best work because she was a black woman. She fought to gain access to the very information that was the sole purpose of her being there and that she needed to work effectively. It sucked that she worked in a place surrounded by people who did not want her there. She was in a segregated place and treated unfairly, but no matter what was going on around her, she always did her best work. She had the approval of herself which mattered the most and then the recognition of others came after.

Katherine didn’t let the roadblocks stop her from doing her work. Dorothy was willing to give something that she had worked for so long for up for the sake of the people who worked tirelessly beside her. Mary decided to walk into a courtroom and petition the court, with this she became the first African- American woman to become an engineer for NASA. All three of these women went over and beyond doing their jobs to the best of their ability. They all set their own rules to get the job done. These three lessons will always help people prevail in this world.

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