Through the time where people were treated by the colour of their skins and not by the colourful thoughts the mind emits, through an epoch where women had the least of say and couldn’t say the least of what’s best, most importantly, through a time where one lives nostalgic to humanity itself for the very reason of variance, there lived gallant, audacious and mutant voices speaking out of key, a key society was used to, for the sake of producing a tune to be chanted throughout generations.
This is an article about three ladies who “outcolored” the color of their skins. Three ladies who let their intelligence speak through the colors of a rainbow, a universal color society can’t castoff. About pioneering events, firsts and one’s own path for others to track by. The “Hidden Figures” too bold not to be recognized or better yet extolled. The neon of colors who started off as grey as the fog on a gloomy season.
Very recently we were introduced to a movie titled “Hidden Figures”. First thing first, we could say this is a first of “black movie” where even through the mental enslavement, the main characters outworked their belittling identity they were entitled to. Not to mention it’s based on actual events. An honoring and empowering story that actually happened when it couldn’t have happen. We are grateful for the writer of the book “Hidden Figures” Margot Lee Shetterly, and for the director of the movie Theodore Melfi, the actors and actresses in solidifying the words into such an inspiring image to be engraved within our minds.
The movie assesses the lives of the outstanding black women, Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions, being the first African-American Woman in the group of white male engineers, Mary Jackson an aspiring engineer and Dorothy Vaughan, a supervisor of the group of African-American women known as the “computers. Before the days of electronic computers, the women hired at NASA to calculate trajectories, the results of wind tunnel tests and the so. These women were African-American mathematicians who have marked their hard work within the NASA space program yet have been largely left out of the history books. Their scrupulous calculations helped the United States catch up in the “space race” and send John Glenn. Katherine’s mind was so trusted that, NASA says Glenn called for Johnson to check the complex trajectory calculations made by the computer before launching the Friendship 7 in 1962.
Here are some of the many interesting facts about the ladies.
She was a freshman in high school at the age of 10, and graduated from college at just 18.
She was the first Black female student to attend West Virginia State.
Johnson was assigned to the Flight Research Division. In one of her first projects, she had to get to the bottom of why a small propeller plane, which had been functioning perfectly normally, fell out of the sky without any warning. Johnson spent days peering through a film reader at the footage recorded by the plane’s black box, analyzing and plotting the data within for the engineers. It was her careful work that allowed engineers to discover that the flight path of a larger plane can disturb the air around it for up to a half hour after it passes through, acting as a sort of “trip wire” for a smaller plane.
In 1958, NASA’s Project Mercury was officially approved, with the goal to put a man in orbit around the Earth. In her role on NASA’s Space Task Group, Johnson calculated astronaut Alan Shepard’s trajectory. Johnson said of the calculations, “You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.”
During the Apollo years, she helped calculate exactly how the lunar lander on the moon’s surface (which was rotating on its own axis as well as rotating around the Earth), could rendezvous and dock with the Apollo command and service module, in orbit around the moon.
She Was Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
Dorothy Vaughan paved the way for minorities, including Johnson, by becoming NASA’s first African-American manager.
Dorothy graduated from Beechurst High School in 1925 and four years later received a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio.
In 1949, Vaughan was assigned as the acting head of the West Area Computers, taking over from a white woman who had died. Five years before Katherine Johnson started working there. Vaughan was also an advocate and voice for the women in the “West Computers” pool.
She worked as a NASA mathematician on the SCOUT Launch Vehicle Program that launched America’s first satellites into space.
Mary Jackson is NASA’s first black female engineer.
She was a mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
In the 1950s, she experimented with processing data from wind tunnel and flights. Eventually, she joined a training program that would allow her to earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer, which required taking classes at the University of Virginia in addition to her work. In 1958, she became NASA’s first black female engineer.
Jackson worked as an engineer in several NASA divisions: the Compressibility Research Division, Full-Scale Research Division, High-Speed Aerodynamics Division, and the Subsonic-Transonic Aerodynamics Division.
She ultimately authored or co-authored 12 technical papers for NACA and NASA.
She worked to help women and other minorities to advance their careers, including advising them how to study in order to qualify for promotions.
She has been awarded in recognition of her great contribution including the Daniels Alumni Award for Outstanding Service to Disadvantaged Youth, National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Service to the Community and also Apollo Group Achievement Award.
If it wasn’t for the book and the movie, not much of the audience would have had the chance to acknowledge these remarkable ladies. It was put in a very good way that makes us want to search for more of them. These ladies were wives, mothers and the hidden figures who let their work speak out loud on behalf of them. Again, ladies who made it all happen when it had the least chance of happening.
Cheers To All The Great Minds! The Hidden Figures!