Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek television series, initially saw her role as a stepping stone, a means to achieve her real goal – a career on stage. After being offered a starring role in a Broadway musical, Nichols submitted her resignation at the end of the first season. But the next day, at an NAACP fundraiser, the organizer introduced her to someone described as her biggest fan. He turned out to be the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told her that her position as a dignified, intelligent Black woman in a leadership role on a popular television show was too important to give up. Nichols, who passed away on July 30, followed his advice, portraying Lieutenant Uhura for the final two seasons of the show and six subsequent films. Her later work as an advocate for inclusiveness in the U.S. space program inspired such future astronauts as Mae Jemison, Charles Bolden and Sally Ride.
We celebrate Star Trek Day on Sept. 8 to commemorate the premiere of this groundbreaking sci-fi series on that date in 1966. Although the show was cancelled after only three seasons due to low ratings, it went on to become a smash hit in syndication, spawning a galaxy of new television series, movies, books and more that continue to this day.
Are you a Star Trek fan? Why not celebrate Star Trek Day with the BCLS streaming video service Kanopy! For the Love of Spock examines how the iconic character of science officer Spock impacted both science fiction and popular culture, as well as the life and career of actor Leonard Nimoy. The journey of actor George Takei, from youthful internment in a Japanese-American concentration camp to the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, is featured in To be Takei. And Star Trek: TNG and Alternate Worlds explores quantum mechanics and the multiverse theory with Lieutenant Worf in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Parallels.
You can also celebrate Star Trek Day locally at Philadelphia’s World Café Live with pop culture rockers The Roddenberries, the galaxy’s premier sci-fi party band performing selections from their latest release Eat the Roddenberries. Or mark the 40th anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by catching it on the big screen in local theaters this month. And don’t forget to look for William Shatner’s latest memoir Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder coming Oct. 4.