“I Took My Son to See ‘Hidden Figures,’ and We Both Walked Away Changed” originally appeared on Tales of an Educated Debutante under the title, “Take Your Kids to See ‘Hidden Figures’,” and was reprinted here with permission.
My oldest and I had a date night last night. It was a Thursday evening — a school night — but I thought, What the Hell?
We had dinner and headed to the movie theater with a friend and her 11-year-old son; but once I sat down, I realized I had absolutely no idea of what the movie we were seeing was even about.
“It’s about women at NASA,” my friend whispered before the credits rolled. And so, I watched.
I would go on to spend much of the movie leaning very far forward in my seat, my arms draped on the empty one in front of me. I drank in what I soon recognized as one of the most amazing stories of victory I had ever heard of. A victory for women and women of color alike, for men who broke the rules, and for friends and spouses who stand by one another.
I watched my son, too.
His lanky frame looked small in the seat as he sat curled up, eating overpriced candy and slurping fruit punch. But soon, he went from whispering to enraptured silence.
I watched his lips moving as he read signs and heard talk about “colored people,” and what that meant for someone living in America in 1961. Our emotions ebbed and flowed together, although we were seats apart.
When one of the main characters offered a glimpse into her own reality, passionately and tearfully, I saw his tears. And just moments later, when the head of NASA took a sledgehammer to a bathroom sign that read, “Colored Women’s Bathroom,” I saw his face light up.
Before Thursday, I didn’t know what Hidden Figures was about. But I do now.
It’s a story about standing in the face of adversity. It’s a story about bravery. And it’s a story about the forgotten heroes of our past.
To properly understand history gives rise to a meaningful navigation of the future.
My son is a 5th-grade student in a Title I school, and he knows he lives a life of privilege compared to many of his classmates, friends, and teammates; the children who spend time in our home.
He has sat on the couch where a friend sleeps with his sister, because their parents cannot afford a bed.
He has watched the eyes of a boy seeing the ocean’s waves for the first time.
He has beamed with pride as a friend — who had never seen a pool — learned to swim.
He’s shared an infinite amount of precious time with his dad many an afternoon or evening with boys longing for a father of their own.
After the movie, we talked as we laid in his bed, and I shared words that had been shared with me long ago: To whom much is given, much is expected.
“I know,” he said.
“I know,” I said.