Viewers and critics agree that Hidden Figures is a great movie and a story that needed to be told. So, rather than write another positive review for the film, Shine TYC decided to focus on the impact the film is having on those who have been inspired by the brilliance of these young women and the bravery of those who dared to break the status quo.
The following post was written by guest blogger, Akira Bell Johnson.
I went with my mother and daughter to see Hidden Figures in a sold out theater. To my daughter’s embarrassment, both my mother and I were welling up after the movie and gave each other long teary hugs in the hallway. The movie is African American history, Women’s history, and an important moment in American History. It was especially personal to me. I had a grandmother who was great at math, worked in banking and liked to do math with me. My father loved math and he and my mother nurtured my love of math and science and both taught me to do computer programming in elementary school in Basic, Fortran, and Pascal. As a young person I was one of the captains of both the math team and chemistry teams. I had two awesome kick-butt female teachers, Mrs. Marquez who was also big on Women’s History and advocacy, and Mrs. Kehayas, who gave me a space to get more engaged in science. I received an internship at Bell Labs summer science program for students of color where I was inspired by awesome scientists who looked like me.
I continued my love of math and science all the way to Princeton’s Engineering School, where I found that there were more women in the school, but not many people of color. During my last year, there was only one other African American woman in the entire engineering school. When I left academia and started my career in corporate technology, the rooms had fewer and fewer people of color, fewer women, and fewer folks my age as my career progressed.
In the current decade, I have had moments very similar to those in the movie, though set in the 1960’s. Many times I find myself surrounded in rooms as the only woman and person of color. It was other great women whose mentoring helped me stay the course when I became a working mother. We don’t often take time to say thank you to those who come before as pioneers, parents who make a path possible, those who lend a hand up, those who teach, those who inspire, and those peers you watch quietly from the sidelines to say just seeing you in class/work helps today. So thank you to the those who felt it important to make this movie. It is has been a “green light” that reminds me to keep going.
Akira Bell Johnson is an Information Technology executive and a graduate of Princeton University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. The mother of twin teenagers, she is committed to the physical and intellectual well-being of all of children by supporting literacy and food insufficiency initiatives. “A hungry child can’t learn” is a reality that spurs her in her duties on the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Foundation board of trustees.