By Lauren Parker, News Editor, The Times
COATESVILLE – As the result of a great idea from local resident, Alphonso Newsuan, 75 African-American girls living in the Coatesville Area School District were recently treated to the movie Hidden Figures at the Movie Tavern in Exton
Inspired by a story he read in the Huffington Post, in which teachers had been raising money to send girls to see the movie, Newsuan began a gofundme page of his own, to do the same and also to honor local high school senior Indya London, who died in January.
In just a few short weeks, Newsuan raised $2,100 of his $2,000 goal. As a result, girls from fourth – twelfth grades were chosen from local organizations such as the Bridge Academy, Coatesville Kids to College, The Movement, Better Tomorrow and Francine Norman, a guidance counselor from Coatesville High School.
The idea was to introduce young women of color to lost history and women in STEM, as the movie is about three African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson who worked with NASA and were instrumental in John Glenn’s launch into space.
Newsuan hoped that showing these girls the story about three women who broke through gender and race barriers in the early 1960s, would inspire them to believe in themselves, follow their dreams and know that they can achieve their goals and be successful.
With the help of the gofundme page and members of the community, the night came together beautifully; local school bus driver Dawn Huskey donated her time and her bus to transport the girls and 12 chaperones from New Life in Christ Fellowship Church in Coatesville to Exton, where they enjoyed unlimited popcorn and soda as they watched the movie.
Though there was a minor glitch with the projector at the theater when they first arrived, which delayed the movie’s start time by quite a bit, Newsuan said the girls took it in stride.
Once the movie began, Newsuan says the girls became aware of what racism looked like in the sixties and that for some of them, it was likely their first experience of what racism really looked like back then.
“It was amazing to be with that crowd with kids that age…to see them share in the victory of what these women accomplished,” Newsuan said. “That made it worth every dollar.”