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HomeWeb SeriesStar Trek's Nickel Nichols breaks down barriers from TV to NASA

Star Trek’s Nickel Nichols breaks down barriers from TV to NASA

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Star Trek: The Original Series Aired for three seasons between 1966 and 1969, and meanwhile broke essential ground not only in science fiction and fantasy, but also in civil rights and actual scientific development. Prestigious Nickel Nicholswho died last week at the age of 89, played communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura throughout the show’s run, and was central to the show’s progress.

In Season 3, Episode 5, “Is There No Truth in Beauty?” Spock (Leonard Nimoy) Himself “Uhura! Whose name means freedom.” A feminized version of the Swahili word for freedom, her name is more than apt. As one of the main cast members and fourth in command of the ship, she illuminated the audience’s imagination with a vision of a future that did not discriminate; One can be celebrated for one’s talents regardless of caste or gender.

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It was an important view that, in the 23rd century, mankind had transcended prejudice, especially in the 1960s when star trek aired earlier. The civil rights movement was in full swing. The first season came in 1966, just two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a year after the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Malcolm X was assassinated. At a time when roles for black actors were often stereotyped, Nichol Nichols’ lieutenant Uhura was the epitome of competence, intelligence, and glamour, on television. Uhura’s Historic Kiss With Captain Kirk (William Shatner) in the Season 3 episode, “Plato’s Step-Children,” It was one of the first interracial kisses in television history, and the first onscreen kiss between a black woman and a white man. “Plato’s Stepchildren” aired in November 1968, exactly seven months after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


RELATED: Nickel Nichols Remembered by Hollywood, Including George Takei, William Shatner, NASA and More

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Dr. King was actually an essential part of having Nickel Nichols onscreen as Lieutenant Uhura. There were many reasons for his departure. Nichols’ lines continued to be cut, and he had to endure behind-the-scenes racism. But above all, she wanted to return to “her first love, which was musical theatre.” Nicholas was a trained dancer and singer as well as an actor. Fans of the original series remember Uhura for her musical talent, and some of the show’s most memorable scenes feature her singing. At the end of the first season, Nichols was offered a pivotal role in an upcoming Broadway production. She wanted to take it, and even handed over her resignation letter. star trek creator Gene Roddenberry, He asked her to reconsider over the weekend, a request she agreed to, although she had no intention of changing her mind. That Saturday, she was a celebrity guest at a fundraiser for the NAACP. In an interview with the Television Academy, Nichols recalls that the organizer approached him and said “there’s someone here who is your biggest fan… and he’s looking forward to meeting you.” Nicholas was surprised to learn that the fan was Dr. Martin Luther King.

Nichols explains that Dr. King told him that not only he, but his entire family was his admirer, telling him how star trek It was the only show his wife would allow his children to get up and watch before bedtime. During their conversation, as soon as she revealed that she was leaving the show, she told him she couldn’t – that, with Uhura, “will be the first time we’ve been seen on television as we should be seen every day: intelligent. As in, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance and … go to space. Who can be a lawyer, who can be a teacher, who can be a professor, who are still today and Yet you don’t see it in television until now. That Monday, Nichols withdrew her resignation. She stayed for all three seasons and returned for both animated series and films, creating not only a historical science fiction story but a civil rights story. icon, with her history-making role onscreen.


Later star trekIn the early race, Nichols continued to break boundaries – both on and off Earth. Ten years after the show ended, she began some of her most important work with NASA as a recruiter and attorney. 2021 documentary woman in motion Nichols’ life story, focusing primarily on the way he changed the American space program forever. His involvement, of all places, began at a Star Trek convention—specifically, the largest Star Trek convention ever held in 1975. One of the speakers at the conference was NASA Science Director Dr. Jesco von Puttkammer. In the documentary, Nichols recalled the amazement he felt upon hearing his presentation at the conference. She remembers “something is happening, back there, saying, mankind had stepped on the moon. It wasn’t just Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin. I stepped on the moon.” At the same time, however, she noted that a “sense of liberation” came from that astonishment. Like someone saw it. As Uhura, she represented what the future of space exploration – and America’s space program – could look like. Now, she “wanted to be there, not in the imagination.” Not 300 years from now, but now.”

In the 1970s, NASA was recruiting a new class of astronauts for its spacecraft program. They expected more women and more people of color among their applicants, but some responded that they were disappointed. The lack of response was understandable, as NASA’s credibility had little to do with women and minorities. Quite simply, it didn’t look like it was actually possible that they were going to recruit a new class of astronauts that wasn’t entirely made up of white people. Nickel Nichols was already very vocal about the need for diversity in the future of space exploration; NASA consulted with him, then requested that he give a speech encouraging recruitment. Nichols agreed under the condition that recruitment would be in the name of his company, women in motion, In collaboration with NASA.

Nichols participated in a grueling four-month recruiting program in which she traveled across the country to persuade women and minorities to apply to the Space Shuttle program. She appeared on television in NASA promotional videos and spoke on talk shows about the recruiting program. The documentary states that when Nickel began its work, NASA had received only 1,500 applications in the past eight months, less than 100 of which were from women and only 35 of which were from minorities. When she finished four months later, NASA had more than 8,000 applications: 1,649 from women and more than 1,000 from minorities. Sally Ride, Gion S. Bluford Jr., Anna Fischer and Judith Resnick were among 35 astronauts selected for that new class, along with Alison Onizuka, Frederick Gregory and Ronald McNair. Sally Ride will be the first American woman to go into space, as well as the youngest person in space. Guion S. Bluford Jr. He will be the first black astronaut to go into space, followed by Ronald McNair and Fred Gregory. Alison Onizuka was the first Asian American to go into space. The first orbiter of the Space Shuttle system was launched on 17 September 1976. Aptly named for both Nichols’ participation in the program and the growing diversity in the new class, this first orbiter was called Enterprise.


In both his role as Uhura and his work for NASA, Nichelle Nichols brought forth a vision of the future star trek close to the present. He continued to collaborate with NASA for decades in both STEM education and outreach. Astronaut Mae Jameson, the first African American woman to travel in space, directly cites Uhura as her inspiration for becoming an astronaut. Jameson also appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, To this day, NASA employees such as flight systems engineer Tracy Drain point to Uhura as she decided she wanted to work for NASA. Inspiring generations, Nichelle Nichols became an icon of what is possible for humanity and individuals, both socially and scientifically. In both science fiction and reality, in our world and in outer space, the life of Nichol Nichols is a reminder to live courageously and “couragely go where no one has gone before.”

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