Written by Mora Olubobokun
A few weeks ago my 13 year old daughter and I went out on a mother daughter date night to see Theodore Melfi’s 2016 movie, Hidden Figures. The movie is based on a true story which revolves around three African-American women who all worked for the NASA during the early years of the US space program. Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan were all scientists with a passion to succeed in their chosen fields. As depicted in the movie, these ladies rose up to overcome the struggle of living in a world where they were defined by their skin colour.
Apart from the bonding time with mini-me, Hidden Figures served as a cross generational inspirational tool amongst other things. For days after the movie, mini-me and I took turns sharing some of the movie moments that impacted us. Here are some of my takeaways that I think BFAN can glean from:
- Square your shoulders and push through: As a newly designated CPA looking to break the next level glass ceiling, the story of Dorothy Vaughan was the dose of “don’t let it get under your skin. Her story reminded mini-me and I that education is not a destination but a journey. Her desire to make the time to learn the Fortran programing language and to teach her staff reminds us that in our various expressions of life, work and leadership, we will have to make time to learn many things if we intend to be part of the solution to problems arising. We need to move out of our comfort zones to be able to embrace new challenges and grow stronger in overcoming them.
- No is never the final answer to a dream: In the age and time of the life of Mary Jackson, many women of color had been told they could not follow their dreams. They had been relegated to the back seat but she was audacious enough to pursue her dream of becoming an Aerospace Engineer against all the odds. She couldn’t have done it alone. She had Dorothy and Katherine encouraging her all the way. Living in a different age, our challenges are sometimes not as obvious or overt as they were in the time of Ms. Jackson but they exist all the same. We have to encourage ourselves with the understanding that the only dream that dies is the one we allow to fade into the night. We must find ways to feed our dreams and to push through the challenging seasons of life without making excuses for mediocrity. That’s why we all need each other at BFAN.
- The wall is your friend: As an immigrant who has lived in 4 countries, 3 continents in the last 20 years, life has been challenging as my family and I have had to start all over again after every relocation. The life of Katherine Johnson is an inspiration. Though saddled with the challenges of being a single mother of three, she did not let the challenges of racial segregation and gender bias stop her from showing how smart she was. She became part of the solution and did not blame her lot in life on the problems of her world even though there was a lot to complain about. From the life of Katherine Johnson, I concluded that the wall is not there to keep us out but instead to prove to those on the other side how much we will do to get over the wall. … BFAN see you on the other side of the wall.
The movie Hidden Figures has truly been a source of inspiration for my daughter and I. Life is truly not about the challenges we face but about how we choose to respond to the challenges.
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