Hidden Figures is the true story of how men and women, black and white, worked together to put a man in space. The film recounts the largely unknown contribution of three black women, whose gifts were crucial to the success of the space program. Kevin Costner describes it as ‘a story of three women whose God-given abilities were allowed to flourish and make a difference’.
In particular, the film highlights the role of Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P Henson), whose remarkable ability in mathematics is recognised by the project director Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner). Initially, Katherine was not welcomed into Al’s team. Indeed, when she entered their room, one white male mathematician assumed that this black woman must be a cleaner, and rudely handed her a waste bin, complaining that she didn’t empty it properly the previous night.
As well as being black, and a woman, Katherine was also a widow bringing up three young daughters. But she did not let any obstacle hold her back from utilising her prodigious ability at mathematics for the good of others. As Taraji Henson, who plays Katherine Johnson, says: ‘if God has something for you, no-one can take it from you.’
Although set in the 1960s, a particular time of racial and sexual discrimination, this film has much to say to all of us today, about how we can work together to use the gifts that God has given to each of us, for the benefit of all people.
As the character Al Harrison says to his team: ‘We all get there together or we don’t get there at all.’