ST. PETERSBURG — As part of the MLK Day of Service, the St. Petersburg Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will hold a screening event for the movie “Hidden Figures” Friday, Jan. 13 at the Cobb Luxury 10 Theatre next to Tyrone Square Mall. It follows with a book giveaway at MLK Family Fun Day Jan. 16 at Tropicana Field.
The event will be open to all young ladies who are interested in going. Young women’s groups from local schools and churches along with members of Delta GEMS, the sorority’s program for young women in ninth to twelfth grade, will all be there munching on popcorn and learning some history.
Co-chairing the event along with Rosalyn Connelly, Anita Lewis said that she saw the upcoming historical film as an opportunity for inspiration to young, career-seeking women.
“Hidden Figures” is based on a true story of three black, female mathematicians who worked with NASA during the 1960s at the outset of the space race. They were essentially computers, doing manual calculations and trajectories for early space flights from John Glenn’s famous 1962 earth orbit to Apollo 11’s mission.
“It would be beneficial for them to see what these women accomplished and be inspired by their achievements,” Lewis said.
The sorority hopes to inspire some to consider looking at careers in STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics — related field as adults.
Other groups of young women from organizations such as Caring for Girls Academy Inc., National Council for Negro Women and Maximo Elementary School will attend. The attendance, Lewis said, is expected to be around 100 young women.
The event includes three speakers before the movie presentation to talk about their STEM careers.
One of the speakers will be Delta Sigma Theta alum Dr. Erin Connelly, who works as a pediatrician in West Palm Beach. Connelly plans to speak about her journey of entering the medical field and how it parallels the movie.
Connelly’s message will be about working hard to reach your goals even when faced with opposition.
“You can achieve what is unachievable,” Connelly said. “If everyone can do it, so can you.”
In history, the “Hidden Figures” trio of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn had to face workplace racism and sexism, but their works came through to help NASA succeed.
Years later, Johnson received a 2015 Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, and was the second woman commemorated by NASA for her contributions.
“Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson, the “Help’s” Octavia Spencer and singing sensation Janelle Monáe are the main protagonists along with Kevin Costner as a NASA scientist. It has received positive reviews from critics for its uplifting, crowd-pleasing account of an overlooked, but essential part of NASA history.
The screening starts at 6:30 p.m. Cobb Luxury 10, located at 2998 Tyrone Blvd N, at the northwest corner of Tyrone Square Mall. The event will get the red carpet treatment and will include candid photos.
The sorority will also participate in the MLK Family Fun Festival at Tropicana Field after the MLK Dream Big Parade Jan. 16. Starting at 2:30 p.m., the fun day will include vendors, entertainment and Day of Service projects.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is a private, worldwide non-profit organization that helps assist local communities. The group made up of college-educated women is active in public services, academic excellence and economic development. They have participated in MLK Day of Service for three years with such projects as the 2015 Real Girls Rock workshops.
The project is part of Delta Sigma Theta’s Educational Development program for Delta GEMS students. GEMS (Growing Empower Myself Successfully) is offered to young women after graduating Delta Academy, which mentors fifth and eighth grade girls.
The programs, Lewis said, is a guide for future college and career plans with activities and academic scholarships.
Delta’s main goal is to empower and inspire them to become future leaders.
“Our purpose is to bring awareness, inform and educate young women in being the best they can be,” Lewis concluded.