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EDITORIAL: Strong, Capable & Qualified

Hidden Figures, John Glenn, Dr. Martin Luther King, Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher

John Glenn

2016 did not end on the happiest of notes with the death of well known public figures. Sadly today as we write this editorial, two Police Officers in Florida lost their lives.

Our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

January is also the month that we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.

A couple weeks ago as I was watching YouTube Videos, a related video came up with a trailer for a movie called, “Hidden Figures.” I haven’t been to a movie theater in over 6 years, but I definitely want to see this movie.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The crux of the movie deals with a NASA program for minority applicants who show an aptitude for science. The film spotlights three African-American women (a.k.a. “human computers) who helped to  provide the correct calculations that successfully put an astronaut (John Glenn) in orbit around the earth.

Katherine Johnson was the leader of the group whose calculations were used. The film also spotlighted were two of her co-workers: Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

These three qualified brilliant women, along with others were able to break that glass ceiling that was mostly dominated by white males.

Debbie Reynolds, left, and Carrie Fisher *Photos Courtesy AP

Astronaut John Glenn insisted that Katherine Johnson be part of the team for his successful launch into space.

Glenn fought against oppression and went out of his way to acknowledge the pool of black mathematicians. It was said that he trusted these women with his life.

On 12/8/16, John Glenn  who led a very distinguished public and private life passed away at the age of 95.

I can see Dr. King and John Glenn in conversation and King thanking Glenn for recognizing the character, skills and qualifications of these women instead their color.

To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

John Glenn knew it was the right thing to do.

Now we want to talk about other women of strength. Actress Carrie Fisher passed away on 12/27/16 and one day later, her mother Actress Debbie Reynolds passed.

Ironically, they both first rocketed into stardom at the age of 19.

Ms. Reynolds in the classic film, “Singing in the Rain,” and Carrie Fisher as the formidable Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.

What they accomplished in their private lives showed a lot of strength. Reynolds, even though married three times had to publicly endure a very humiliating divorce from her first husband, Eddie Fisher. Unfortunately, With her two subsequent marriages, her two other husbands not only ruined her financially, but she had to in-turn pay off their debts that they had accumulated unbeknownst to her. She didn’t moan and groan about it and just continued to work until those debts were paid off.

She and Carrie at one time had a very shaky relationship because of Carrie’s foray into drugs and then eventually Carrie was faced with the demons of mental illness. At one point, they did not speak to each other for ten years.

From left, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan

Thankfully they found their way back and formed an even closer bond. They both empowered themselves by exposing their blemishes which in turn strengthened them and helped others. This enabled others to come out of the shadow and not be ashamed of the same problems.

They did this through interviews and writing books. One book written by Carrie (Postcards from the Edge)  was based on their relationship.

A lot of young women said that the character of Princess Leia gave them a sense of empowerment and they wanted to be just like her.

It was said, “You can’t get any more empowered than slaying a really BAD, BAD, BAD GUY while wearing a metal bikini.”

Both Debbie and Carrie were  great when being interviewed individually and even more  entertaining when being interviewed together. I encourage everyone to look on YouTube for those appearances.

I think it even might be therapeutic if you are looking to reconcile with someone who was once close to you and to watch it with them together. C.M.

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