Hidden Figures come thru again...
This past Friday, October 18, NASA made two women – astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir became the first female pair to lead an all-female walk in space. This historic accomplishment makes Meir the 15th woman to have walked in space, and this is the 43rd spacewalk to include a woman since 1984. Meir noted that their mission to replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit (BCDU) was, “For us, this is really just us doing our jobs.” She further went on to commend the female explorers, scientists, engineers, and astronauts who came before the pair.
You might recall the 2016 motion picture film Hidden Figures that received three Oscar Nominations. The film, loosely based on the book of the same title and release year, unearths the immense contribution black women made to the world’s history. Three black women, known by NASA at this time as “coloured computers,” led the heavy calculations to guide the first human walk in space. Katherine Johnson, played by actress Taraji P. Henson, was personally requested by John Glenn to double-check the calculations of an IBM Computer. This was vital to the success of Project Mercury, which aimed to put the first American in space. Katherine Goble, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson are the female pioneers Meir is referring to as the predecessors to her recent accomplishment. Black women are the foundational cornerstones of success in American space endeavors since the space race against the Soviet Union. In June of this year, fifty-seven years after John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth three times, NASA renamed a street “Hidden Figures Way” at the front of the U.S. Space Agency headquarters in Washington D.C. to honor the work of these amazing historical figures.
The film, while taking creative license, marries with the book to delve into the lack of equity and acceptance these women faced. Both media touch on issues of gender and race inequality, which were dominant cultural issues during the Jim Crow era of the 1950s and 1960s. What’s of particular appreciation is highlighting how women of color have and continue to make significant, major impact in our world. Considering the recent news regarding the death of Fort Worth, Texas resident Atatiana Jefferson at the hands of a Fort Worth police officer, we must take the time to commemorate and appreciate black women.
Black women, we see, hear, and appreciate you wholeheartedly. Your dedicated efforts continue to shape the nation and the world.