An elementary school in Utah has traded one Jackson for another in a change that many say was a long time coming.
Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City will no longer be named for Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, whose slave ownership and treatment of Native Americans are often cited in the debate over memorializing historical figures associated with racism.
Instead, the school will honor Mary Jackson, the first black female engineer at nasa whose story, and the stories of others like her at the space agency, was chronicled in Hidden Figures, a 2016 film based on a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.
A unanimous vote by the the Salt Lake City school board this week was met with a standing ovation from the crowd in the room, reportsThe Salt Lake Tribune’s Erin Alberty. School employees and parents have discussed changing the elementary’s school name “for years,” Alberty reported, and last year started polling and meeting with parents, alumni, and others. More than 70 percent supported the change. Of the school’s 440 students, 85 percent are students of color, according to the Salt Lake City School District.
Mary Jackson, a native of Hampton, Virginia, worked as a math teacher, a receptionist, and an Army secretary before she arrived at NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1951 as a member of the West Area Computing unit, a segregated division where African American women spent hours doing calculations with pencil and paper, including for the trajectories of the country’s earliest space missions.
Two years in, a NASA engineer picked Jackson to help him work on a wind tunnel that tested flight hardware by blasting it with winds nearly twice the speed of sound. The engineer suggested Jackson train to become an engineer. To do that, Jackson had to take night courses in math and physics from the University of Virginia, which were held at the segregated Hampton High School. Jackson successfully petitioned the city to let her take the classes. She got her promotion to engineer in 1958. After 34 years at the space agency, Jackson retired in 1985. She died in 2005, at the age of 83.
Heading into the weekend, a tight race was projected between “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Sing” and “Hidden Figures,” the latter of which showed a strong expansion judging by early estimates. Sure enough, Fox’s “Hidden Figures” earned $7.6 million at 2,471 locations to win Friday, on its way to an estimated $21 million for the weekend.
“Rogue One,” meanwhile tacked on an additional $6.1 million at 4,157 theaters, shooting to a potential $24 million this weekend. Illumination-Universal’s animated comedy “Sing” made $5.1 million on Friday from 3,955 theaters and should make about $23 million by the weekend’s end.
Taraji P. Henson stars in “Hidden Figures” as Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), helped NASA advance in the Space Race. Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons also star. Fox 2000 Pictures, Chernin Entertainment, Levantine Films and TSG Entertainment produced the film distributed by Fox. The awards season contender also performed well in limited release with $2.9 million from 25 locations since Dec. 25.
ATLANTA — Taraji P. Henson hates math, and Octavia Spencer has a paralyzing fear of calculus, but that didn’t stop either actress from playing two of the most important mathematicians the world hasn’t ever known.
Both women are starring in “Hidden Figures,” a forthcoming film that tells the astonishing true story of female African-American mathematicians who were invaluable to NASA’s space program in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s.
Ms. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a math savant who calculated rocket trajectories for, among other spaceflights, the Apollo trips to the moon. Ms. Spencer plays her supervisor, Dorothy Vaughan, and the R&B star Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, a trailblazing engineer who worked at the agency, too.
Slated for wide release in January, the film is based on the book of the same title, to be published this fall, by Margot Lee Shetterly. The author grew up knowing Ms. Johnson in Hampton, Va., but only recently learned about her outsize impact on America’s space race.
Pharrell Williams will produce Taraji P. Henson’s mathematics drama “Hidden Figures” and write original songs for the soundtrack.
Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Ted Melfi are also producing, and Melfi is directing. Williams will oversee all musical elements for the motion picture and its soundtrack.
Henson stars along with Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as a trio of brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind the 1962 launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit — a key milestone in the space race against the Soviet Union to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
“After my producing partner Mimi Valdés and I heard about this project, we basically begged the producers and studio to allow us to participate,” Williams said. “This is an extraordinary story about black women with genius mathematical minds who contributed to American history. It takes place in Virginia, my home state, and at NASA, a place I’ve been obsessed with since childhood.”
Fox will release “Hidden Figures” on Jan. 13. Also starring are Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Kevin Costner. The screenplay is by Alison Schroeder, Melfi and Lori Lakin Hutcherson.
Williams has won 10 Grammy Awards. He’s also known for his musical contributions to the “Despicable Me” films as well as his judging stint on NBC’s “The Voice.”
*(GBN disclosure from Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson: the above is an article in which I am mentioned, as I am primarily a writer in television and film, and was fortunate enough to work on “Hidden Figures.” It may be a conflict of interest to have published this, but so be it – it’s an awesome film and Good Black News regardless!)
Ted Melfi is directing the movie and producing with Chernin Entertainment and Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films. The film is based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s upcoming book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” which will be published in September by HarperCollins.
The story follows three African-American women who served as the brains behind NASA’s Friendship 7 mission, which saw astronaut John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth in February 1962.
Henson will play Katherine Johnson, Spencer will play Dorothy Vaughan and Monae will play the youngest member of the trio, Mary Jackson. Kevin Costner will co-star as the head of the space program.
The studio has been developing the adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” published by HarperCollins.
“St. Vincent” director Ted Melfi is attached to direct and produce the film along with Chernin Entertainment and Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films.
The story centers on Johnson (Henson), a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission. Spencer will play one of the three mathematicians.
Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the Earth.
The book will be published in September from HarperCollins.
“Empire” star and Golden Globes award winner Taraji P. Henson will play mathematics genius Katherine Johnson in “Hidden Figures” for Fox 2000.
The studio has been developing the adaptation of the Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” to published by this fall by HarperCollins.
The story centers on Johnson, a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission.
Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the Earth. Johnson was recently honored by Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“St. Vincent” director Ted Melfi is attached to direct. Producers are Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping through Chernin Entertainment; Donna Gigliottiof Levantine Films; and Melfi.
Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva are overseeing the project for Fox 2000. Fox has already set a January 13, 2017 release date for “Hidden Figures.”