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YWCA Minneapolis Hosts Hidden Figures Movie Night at AMC Theatres

By Mary Salisbury, YWCA Volunteer Coordinator
March 2, 2017
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YWCA Hidden Figures Movie Screening

Last week YWCA Minneapolis partnered with 3M, AMC Theatres and Capella University to host a private screening of Hidden Figures for YWCA Girls and Youth program participants, their families and community partners. Tickets sold out and more than 190 individuals – youth, families, community partners – filled the theater to watch the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three African-American women who worked at NASA and served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history.

Celebrating Black History Month at the Movies

The screening was a way to celebrate Black History Month (and intersectional issues of race and gender) while providing access to the film for families and individuals who might typically have barriers to attending the movies be it financially, transportation or other life circumstances. For one family in attendance, it was the parent’s first time at a movie theater.

The movie screening had additional importance to one Girls Inc. participant, Deko, who was recently accepted into NASA Space Camp! She said, “I am so excited because I know that I get to go in that space simulator at camp, just like the one they showed in the movie!”

Panel Discussion with Women in STEM

A panel discussion on women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, match) followed the screening and included Bala Venkatesh, IT Manager at Capella University; Andriel Dees, YWCA Board Secretary and Director of Learner Inclusion, Engagement and Academic Success at Capella University; and one of the YWCA Girls and Youth program participants, Kaela, who is enrolled in our Eureka! program which exposes young women to STEM fields.

The youth in the audience asked a number of questions of the panelists about college, career choices and success. In Kaela’s own words, when asked how boys her age can help support girls and the issues we saw in the movie, she said they should “stick up for them” if they are getting teased or called a nerd, and to tell the teasers they’re just jealous because “girls are smart.”  Kaela herself is interested in going into a career that involves animals and making their lives better.

A Powerful Film for All

The film was powerful for youth and adults alike. It left many with the realization that the 1960s was not that long ago – a time when bathrooms were segregated and women in positions of leadership in the workforce – particularly women of color – was extremely rare.

A community partner emailed afterwards to say, “Thank you so much for the tickets for the movie. My wife and I loved it. The panel discussion was stimulating and educational; a great community builder.”

We were so pleased to have the opportunity to host the screening and to engage with our program participants, their families and community partners at the movies. It was a great way to reflect together on our shared history which is so important to recognize and remember.