In honor of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, I will be highlighting one of the first African American women to appear in a role, where she was reduced to a servant.
Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek series back in the 1960s. She was a bridge officer upon the USS Enterprise. Additionally it is a role that she didn’t want to keep but at the urging of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. she remained. Actress Whoopi Goldberg said it was Nichols role in Star Trek that encouraged her to ask for a role on Star Trek Generations, which was granted. Similarly, Mae Jemison (the first black female astronaut) used Lt. Uhura as an inspiration to become an astronaut.
Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner shared one of the first interracial kisses of that decade. In her autobiography, she stated she received a letter from a white Southerner who wrote, “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”
At Shatner’s Comedy Central roast in 2006, she famously stated that they should make history again and told him to kiss her black ass.