My husband and I sat in the movie theater watching Hidden Figures on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year.
I loved the movie—so well written, directed, and acted, and such a beautifully inspiring true story. If you haven’t seen this uplifting film of three African-American women, mathematical and computer geniuses working at NASA in the 1960s and, in their own way, fighting bravely for equality and justice, I hope you will soon!
Below is the trailer if you want to check it out:
But while the movie made me laugh and cry, I think I was just as moved by seeing the people who came.
Movie theaters typically aren’t very full at the first morning matinee showing of the day, though this of course was a holiday. And in general, it seems like movies dealing with racial issues aren’t always as popular. We went to see Selma on MLK day a couple of years ago, and I don’t remember the theater being very packed.
But this time, I was glad we got there early. The theater just kept filling—with people of all different backgrounds, and many families with children. I saw several groups who arrived just as the movie was beginning halt at the doorway in surprise, wondering where they would find a seat, then have to go for the rows closest to the screen.
It tightened my throat, seeing how many people had come to see this movie, at a time when our nation has been so racially and politically divided. It gladdened my heart to hear people’s response throughout the story—their laughter when a character made a point or got their due, their applause when the story ended. And when one part brought tears to my eyes, I saw several other people wiping away tears too.
I heard one white mother talking to her pre-teen daughter as they left the theater: “Did you like it? Wasn’t it awesome?” The girl nodded enthusiastically.
On Friday, our school decided to gather the 5th through high schoolers in the auditorium to watch President Donald Trump be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. There were many mixed emotions in the crowd, among both students and teachers. And I think for many of us, the divisions and insecurities and lack of love in our country that we’ve experienced so much this past year have been highlighted even more over the past few days of this new administration.
I may share more of my thoughts on that at some point. But for today, I want to focus on why we still have reasons to hope.
Because in spite of these divisions, I am seeing people—God’s people, especially—waking up to our need for reconciliation and unity like I haven’t seen before. For the first time this year, I saw a card company I think of as rather typically white-Evangelical sending out emails with cards honoring MLK day this year, and encouraging the Christian community to remember and celebrate King’s legacy.
I’ve seen other mainstream evangelical organizations showcasing articles on racial relations like I’ve never seen. And I get emails all the time, since I’ve signed up for a Google alert on “racial reconciliation,” on how many churches and denominations are taking historic steps to seek to understand, listen to, and build bridges between believers of different colors and backgrounds. Yesterday I read this article about the plethora of new books coming out from major Christian publishers on race and other social issues, and how followers of Jesus can engage with them.
I see my students, and their willingness to engage in topics like racism, and their anger over injustice, and their close friendships with peers who have so much in common with them…except maybe what country they’re from and the color of their skin.
I see the Lord continuing to give me and my family relationships and opportunities to learn from friends of cultures and backgrounds different from ours, even when it’s not always easy. I see Jesus-following friends, from different political and ethnic backgrounds, taking godly stands and posting thoughtful and loving insights seeking unity and justice and healing.
I see a crowd gathering for a movie like Hidden Figures, and being drawn together in a story of overcoming, of learning to see through others’ eyes, of hope. I see Jesus at work, despite all our sinfulness and self-centeredness and blindness and failings.
What about you? What snippets of hope can you share with us, in whatever nation you may live? Please comment and share!