New York City African-American business leaders, in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Google, Facebook, Infor and AT&T, have launched an initiative to offer free admission to the critically-acclaimed feature, Hidden Figures, for over 25,000 students in New York.
New York schools are the first to benefit from the project.
Hidden Figures is the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
The screening program will educate students about the many contributions made by African-Americans to science, technology, engineering, and math, and inspire more students to enter those fields. Charles Phillips, Chairman and CEO of Infor, William M. Lewis, Jr. Co-Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard, and Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express, lead the group of African-American business executives driving the opportunity.
“On behalf of the African-American business community members involved today, I would like to thank the great organizations that have joined this effort,” said Ken Chenault. “Hidden Figures spotlights our unsung communities’ long lineage of shaping our nation. It serves as a wonderful opportunity to inspire the next generation to carry that torch forward.”
The New York Public School System has already signed up for 10,000 tickets. They have been joined by the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), Eagle Academy for Young Men, De La Salle Academy, Harlem School of the Arts, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, Harlem Children’s Zone, Harlem Village Academy and the East Harlem Tutorial Program. NY Public Library will assist with ticket distribution.
“I’m deeply moved that my work is being used to educate and inspire students in this way. Programs like this are vital to sharpening our collective memories and enlightening young people about their history and exciting them about their future,” said Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the nonfiction book Hidden Figures, on which the film is based.
Google has announced that it will be inviting teenage girls and students to participate in a new online Made With Code project. Participants build an interactive graphic capturing the triumphant themes of the Hidden Figures movie. In partnership with AMC theatres and local school districts, Google will also be hosting coding workshops along with viewing parties of the movie, where students can watch and discuss the film, and learn introductory coding skills.
Dr. Linda Curtis-Bey, Executive Director of STEM, New York City Public Schools, said: “Hidden Figures provides an important platform from which teachers and students, especially girls, can engage in discussions about STEM, the role of women in the workplace and the contributions of African-Americans.”
In January 2015, New York City African-American business leaders sponsored free tickets for schoolchildren to see the movie Selma. The project funded free screenings for more than 300,000 students across 28 cities. It resulted in expanded school curricula and special showings at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and other historically important venues.