In the movie Hidden Figures, we learn more about the African American women who were instrumental in helping NASA make advances into space.
Katherine Johnson, the only mathematician still alive from the group in Hidden Figures, calculated trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths for well-known space missions. The words “phenomenally smart” describe her exactly.
If she did all this heavy lifting for NASA and wasn’t recognized for her work until later, why isn’t she bitter?
It’s not the way she is. She’s a modest person.
In a Burlington Times-News article published a few days ago, her daughter described how she and her sister had no idea when they were younger how much her mother contributed to the success of NASA’s missions.
Why didn’t their mother tell them? “I was just doing my job,” Johnson says.
Still, though, when Johnson moved to a space task group consisting only of white males, she suffered. She had to trek a half a mile across the NASA campus to go to the bathroom designated for blacks. Even the task force’s coffee pot wasn’t to be shared with her. The men assigned one coffeepot as “colored.”
That’s what she endured with her job.
Johnson knew the value of a supportive community to overcome problems. As her daughter told the Times-News, she learned from her mother that “when bad things happen, if you let that overtake you, then it sort of stifles that forward motion.”
Yes, I’d say Johnson demonstrated forward motion.