Women's History Month

Janelle Monáe And Octavia Spencer Surprised A Real 'Hidden Figure' Who Broke Barriers In The Navy

"You are an American hero, and you are hidden no more."

Hidden Figures, the true story of the Black women who worked as NASA mathematicians during the Space Race, recently became the year's highest-grossing Best Picture nominee. In light of the film's success and in celebration of Black History Month, Good Morning America this week welcomed another real-life "hidden figure" — Raye Montague, a retired U.S. Navy engineer who was the first person to design a ship using a computer and the first female program manager in the history of the Navy.

During a clip recounting her amazing story, Montague shared the inspiring message her mother instilled in her when she was just a little girl: "Raye, you'll have three strikes against you. You're female, and you're Black, and you'll have a Southern, segregated school education. But you can be or do anything you want, provided you're educated."

The 82-year-old also told co-host Robin Roberts what seeing Hidden Figures meant to her. "I faced a lot of the same barriers that those ladies faced," she said, and shared how some of her male co-workers assumed she was there to get them coffee — similar to the challenges Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) faced in the film.

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Little did Montague know, one of the stars of Hidden Figures was there to surprise her. Janelle Monáe — who played Mary Jackson, NASA's first Black female engineer — arrived with flowers for Montague. "We thank you so much for your service," she told her. "You are an American hero, and you are hidden no more."

But Monáe wasn't the only star to honor Montague. Octavia Spencer, who is nominated at this year's Oscars for playing mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the film, also sent a touching video message. "It is such an honor and a privilege to thank you for being a pioneer and trailblazer for women all across the world," she said. "I want you to know that you are no longer hidden. We see you, we salute you, and we thank you."

Montague closed her appearance with this powerful message about her accomplishments: "One of the things people always say to me, 'Oh, you mean you were the first Black woman to do this.' No ... 'Well, then you were the first woman.' No. I was the first person, and that's important."

(H/T: Gossip Cop)

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