Happy 89th birthday to the beloved original series star, Nichelle Nichols! Her work on the original series broke new ground in minority representation on television, and led to an illustrious lifetime of work beyond the screen.
Early in her career, Ms. Nichols was more interested in a stage career on Broadway rather than a television career, and almost resigned the show to pursue her dream. However, she was approached by a “fan” at an NAACP event—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He impressed upon her that her role in the show was every bit as important as the marches and speeches of the Civil Rights Movement. She was showing America and the world a strong, Black woman of intelligence and accomplishment, and breaking down barriers for others to follow in her path, not just in television but in business, science, law, medicine, and other accomplished career paths. She was persuaded by his encouragement, and when she went to Gene Roddenberry’s office to retract her resignation letter, he showed her that he had already torn it up. Later in the show’s run, she shared the first interracial kiss in television history with William Shatner.
Her work on the show led to her working with NASA for much of her life. As shown in the documentary, “Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA,” she “pioneered the NASA recruiting program to hire people of color and the first female astronauts for the space agency in the late 1970s and 1980s.”
Ms. Nichols made her final official public appearance earlier this month at L.A. Comicon, concluding a remarkable and world-changing career whose impact will be felt far into the future! For more information about Nichelle, please visit http://uhura.com/