Charles Bolden

'Hidden Figures' may feature NASA's history, but it resonates in the present

'Hidden Figures' may feature NASA's history, but it resonates in the present

When NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson asks to join a high-level briefing in the run-up to astronaut John Glenn’s historic 1962 flight in the film “Hidden Figures,” an engineer rushes to shut the idea down.

“There’s no protocol for women attending,” he replies — an excuse that Johnson quickly bats aside.  

“There’s no protocol for a man circling the Earth either, sir,” she says.

That conversation sketches the two-front battle fought by NASA’s black female mathematicians and engineers as they worked toward a Cold War victory: beating the Soviet Union at the space race and overcoming the many layers of prejudice in the Jim Crow South.

“Hidden...

60°