I remember as a kid watching Star Trek for the first time. Upon mostly caucasian white males and Mr. Sulu aka George Takei, I was taken aback when I saw this beautiful African American Lady on board of the Starship Enterprise.
My first thought was “A black person in outer space” that was a first in my eyes. Nevertheless Nichelle Nichols has since become a cultural icon and one of the first pioneers that started in a popular debuted television series. Here are a few things you probably did not notice about Nichelle Nichols.
Nichols was very intelligent and multi-talented
Nichols was not only a television pioneer on Star Trek, she also was a civil rights advocate, dancer, NASA employee and jazz singer.
Nichols created her own character on Star Trek
Nichols Star Trek character Uhura was created from a novel called Uhuru, which is Swahili for “freedom.” Nichols brought the novel to the audition, her director Gene Roddenberry suggested she make an alliteration of the name Uhuru. Nichols also created the backstory of the character.
She was a member of the Duke Ellington Band at the age of 16
Nichols was a dancer of the Duke Ellington Band. One day the Legend pulled Nichols aside and asked her to sing for him. After hearing her voice, she took on the responsibility of fronting the band. Ellington said Nichols was wonderful.
A Very Famous Civil Rights Activist encouraged Nichols to continue her role on Star Trek
After the first season, Nichols was afraid that her character’s storylines would be pushed to the side, so she decided to leave the Enterprise. Fortunately, she ran into Dr. Martin Luther King and he convinced Nichols to stay on the show, underlining her character’s importance to the black community. Eventually her character earned more prominent parts on the television series.
She recorded a pretty good Album
In 1967, she tackled ten standards on the cleverly titled Down to Earth for Epic records.