Harriett Jenkins: Process Paper
When the Discovery Unsung Hero website was first brought to me in class, I had no idea what to do. Being a theater student, I automatically wanted to do a narrative film. Knowing what I wanted to do, I thought about who I wanted to be my Unsung hero for weeks, ideas bouncing all the way from Amy Garvy, to Corretta King. All were beautiful Unsung heros, but none of them grabbed me. One day I was talking to my mom about our Grandmother and it hit me, my great Grandmother Harriett Jenkins deserves so much more recognition, and with her passing still being fresh in my mind, I knew that making anything for her would be a great way to heal and show the world who she was.
When I started researching her, I realized that a narrative film wasn’t the route I wanted to go at all. There were some articles on her, but in my opinion, not enough. I knew that I needed to make a website on her that would forever be on the internet but there were barely any primary sources. So, I had to go to the people closest to her, her son Brian Wood and her granddaughter Mandisa Wood. In the interview, Brian had a lot of insight on her teaching career and gave me most of my information surrounding her childhood and her degrees, but Mandisa really talked about Harriett's genealogy and her family tree since she has a knack for tracing back the family lineage.
As I mentioned before, making a narrative film wasn’t really the way I wanted to share Harriet’s memory. I felt like films are watched and forgotten, but websites are visited regularly. So I set out to making a website, which was easy enough once I figured out how I was going to make it. The hard part was building and trying to figure out my theme. I had no idea what I wanted it to be, but I knew that I wanted to make it in a way that preserved Harriet’s memory in a positive way. When I was researching, I found so many articles about what she did in NASA, and how she changed it in so many ways and I knew that that was the way I wanted to go.
My thesis: Harriett Jenkins sent the first African American into space, worked constantly with integrating NASA and Congress and ultimately changed NASA and its employees forever... After hearing so much about my grandmother interviewing astronauts and integrating NASA I knew that those were the two key points i needed in my thesis because of how important they are. I needed to show in my thesis that she left her mark on this world and her handprint will be here forever, and her legacy teaches young black girls everywhere that if she could do it, we can to. All we have to do is try.