In 2016, the term "Hidden Figure" became widely used after the movie by the same name was a smash hit. It told the story of NASA's three brilliant African-American female pioneers, who broke barriers behind the scenes.
What many didn't realize then, is that Arkansas had its own Hidden Figure in Raye Montague. Late Tuesday, Oct. 9, she passed away.
Raye faced three substantial hurdles: She was a woman, black and southern in the 1960s when she fell in love with submarines. Those hurdles became the mountains that moved Raye Montague to do better, to be better and to prove everyone wrong.
"Aim for the stars, at the very worst, you'll land on the moon."
Those words, from Raye Montague's 8th-grade teacher and mentor, stuck with her and motivated her as she chased her dreams to become a naval engineer.
"My classmates all laughed at me because they thought I wanted to drive a train,” Raye told us back in 2017.
After the movie came out in 2016, Arkansas' own "Hidden Figures" story began circulating once again.
"It's almost like my story,” she told Craig O'Neill.
"She wanted to enter the engineering school at the U of A, but they wouldn't allow minority enrollment. They didn't know Raye would parley an A, M and N education into a job with the Navy in Washington,” Craig said in that feature on Raye.
"I started at the bottom of the ladder, even with a college degree,” Raye told Craig.
She defied all odds when she was promoted to ship design and construction. There, she used unprecedented technology to design a ship in a record 18 hours and 26 minutes.
"They said I had revolutionized the design process for all naval ships and submarines,” she said. “After that, my career just took off."
And after her appearance on THV11, her notoriety took off. She toured the national news circuit. Then just last month, she was inducted into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame.
"She was so bright and vibrant and cared so much about helping other people. Just talking to her, you get motivated,” said John Owens Wednesday. He is CEO of the North Little Rock Chamber, one of the sponsors of the event. "Her life was a real example for other women. She was able to break through barriers and create opportunities for those that came behind her. She talked a lot about that. I think it's so important for young people today to have role models like her."
Raye was also a proud member of AKA Sorority Inc.
"We want our legacy to live on for our young people because I think the common thread in her story is persistence,” Beta Pi Omega chapter President, Melanie Hillard, said. She added that she will always remember Raye as being warm, welcoming and humble.
"Raye would always say, 'Don't let anyone tell you no. Keep going, if it's something you really want, work really hard and try to achieve your goal,'" Hillard said.
You can find Craig’s feature on Raye Montague here.