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Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols on Uhura's Radical Impact

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Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols on Uhura's Radical Impact

Short | 04:00

Star Trek's decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1968. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.

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When "Star Trek" first aired in 1966, it expanded the viewers' imaginations about what was possible in their lifetimes. Today, many of the space-age technologies displayed on the show, like space shuttles, cell phones, and desktop computers, have already gone from science fiction to science fact. Other innovations, like warp drive, teleportation, and medical tricorders are actively in development. Join us as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of "Star Trek" - a show that continues to inform, enrich, and inspire.


  • Nichelle Nichols
  • Dorothy Fontana
  • David Gerrold
  • Nichelle Nichols

    Nichelle Nichols

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    Nichols' Star Trek character, Lieutenant Uhura, was the Communications Officer on the USS Enterprise. Nichols is one of the first African American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, which was groundbreaking in U.S. society at the time. In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols famously kissed Captain James T. Kirk. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on U.S. television. After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency. Always interested in space travel, Nichols flew aboard NASA's C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission.

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