Over time, we’re finding out more and more about the men and women of color who have left a permanent mark in history. On Monday (Feb. 20), Janelle Monae helped honor Raye Montague, the first woman to become a program manager in Navy history and the first woman to design a ship using a computer.
On Good Morning America, the 82-year-old was honored as a hidden figure for her work in the Navy. After taking on a degree in business at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (previously known as Arkansas AM&N), the Litte Rock native worked as a digital computer operator at a Navy station in Maryland. During her 50 years in the field, Montague worked as a program director for the Naval Sea Systems Command. It’s also known as the fifth largest program in the U.S. Navy.
After she was turned away from obtaining her engineering degree, she decided to take computer programming classes at night. This helped her build a program meant to help design navy ships and submarines. Montague was reportedly given a month to complete the task but finished the job in 18 hours and 56 minutes. “I just never dreamed that I would be credited with achieving as much as I did,” she told GMA co-host Robin Roberts of. “It was really my story… I faced a lot of the same barriers that those ladies faced.”
During the segment, Monae came out to surprise the award-winning engineer and praise her for her accolades, but not before Montague got to share her own thoughts on Hidden Figures. “You all were beautiful, just beautiful, and I know what you were going through because I was going through the same thing,” Montague said to Monae. Monae replied, “We thank you so much for your service. You are an American hero and you are hidden no more. Everybody sees you.”
Octavia Spencer also surprised Montague with a loving video. “I want to let you know that you are no longer hidden,” she said. “We see you. We salute you, and we thank you.”
Watch Spencer’s message below.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 20, 2017