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Nickel Nichols: Listened to Then Inspired Generations To Reach For The Stars

When the “Star Trek” series debuted in 1966, it broke many barriers, and the most memorable was the appearance of a brown-skinned woman titled lieutenant, not maid. Whose skin color was dark, not dark. Whose style was professional, not sultry. He held the position of authority – chief communications officer and U.S. Fourth on a spacecraft called the S Enterprise. He even had an African surname, Uhura, which was inspired by the Swahili word for freedom.

A Trailblazer for African American Actresses

If the character broke down barriers, then the actress who originally brought Uhura to life, Nichelle Nichols, has more bang.
Her appearance as a bridge officer in the series was a trailblazer for African American actresses on American television as the role was perceived as non-stereotypical and three-dimensional.
Multiculturalism and diversity were no “thing” then, but Nichols set the standard on and off the stage.

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An actress in an oscar brown musical

Viewers of all races fell in love with Lt. Uhura, and Ms. Nichols was highly praised for her portrayal, but she wanted to leave the series, and return to her singing and dancing – her first love. She debuted as an actress, singer and dancer in the Oscar Brown musical, before “Star Trek”, followed by the James Baldwin drama, “Blues for Mr. Charlie.”

Leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Nichols recalled in an interview with Essence magazine, excerpts from which appear below, that civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. had changed his mind. She met him at an NAACP banquet, and he told her that she “can’t give up” on the series. She told this scene to Essence Reporter: Essence.com: There was a moment when you planned to leave the show, but a talk with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed your mind. What were his magic words?

told to Gene Roddenberry

Nichols: It was on the NAACP fund-raiser. One of the organizers came up to me and said, “Someone wants to meet you. He’s a big fan of yours.” I turn and see Dr. King and my mind is going, that fan must wait! Oh my god, that’s Dr. King! And he laughed and said, “I’m that fan.” I just told Gene Roddenberry that I was leaving the show and [Dr. The king] said, “You can’t do that.” He told me how great and important this show was and how it presented mankind in the future and gave us a format to see how we should be.

For the record, King also said

His wife Coretta watched “Star Trek” on TV and it was the only television series he approved for their children. She also told him that her character was a positive role model for African Americans.

First american woman in space

Withdrew his resignation from the series. And, later, “Star Trek” and something else outside of her role: She helped break down barriers for girls aspiring to work in space careers.
For more than 15 years, from the late 1970s to 1987, he was employed by NASA to oversee astronaut recruitment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The space agency said in a tweet after her death last weekend that Ms Nichols helped recruit some of its first female and minority astronauts, among them Guy Bluford, the first black American in space and the first American woman in space. Includes Sally Ride.

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