Little known stories of black women’s resilience and resistance in tough historical times are taking center stage at the Oscars this year with two actresses earning top acting nominations for their portrayals of black women historical figures.

Ruth Negga is nominated for best actress this year for her portrayal of Mildred Loving, a black woman who with her white husband, Richard Loving, challenged state policies that outlawed interracial marriage. Their 1966 Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, legalized interracial marriage in the United States. The film “Loving” chronicles the legal and social barriers the couple faced.

Octavia Spencer is nominated for best supporting actress in “Hidden Figures” for playing Dorothy Vaughan, a black woman mathematician at NASA who led a team of black women “computers” who executed math equations that helped launch some of NASA’s most important missions. The film “Hidden Figures” introduced most Americans to the black women engineers and mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Jim Crow era and beyond.