Saturday Open Thread | Black Women in Television: Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols brought an entire new view of Black women with her portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura. Yes, Black women would be in the future – and they would be competent, professional and a vital participant.




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Nichelle Nichols (born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28, 1932) is an American actress, singer and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series (1966–1969), as well as the succeeding motion pictures, where her character was eventually promoted in Starfleet to the rank of commander. Multiple novel series have stated that she rose to at least Captain.

Nichols’ Star Trek character, one of the first African American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant,[1] was groundbreaking in U.S. society at the time. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. personally praised her work on the show and asked her to remain when she considered leaving the series.[1][2]



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Star Trek[edit]

Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura
On Star Trek, Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant; her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the series, as she wanted to pursue a Broadway career; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., changed her mind. She has said that King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series. He said she “could not give up” because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see blacks appearing as equals.[1][2][9][10] It is also often reported that Dr. King added that “Once that door is opened by someone, no one else can close it again.”[citation needed]

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has cited Nichols’ role of Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut and Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols’ influence.[11] Goldberg asked for a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation,[12] and the character of Guinan was specially created, while Jemison appeared in an episode of the series.

In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols famously kissed white actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on U.S. television.[13][14][15] The Shatner-Nichols kiss was seen as groundbreaking, even though it was portrayed as having been forced by alien telekinesis. There was some praise and some protest. On page 197 of her 1994 autobiography Beyond Uhura, Star Trek and Other Memories, Nichols cites 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.” During the Comedy Central Roast of Shatner on August 20, 2006, Nichols jokingly referred to the kiss and said, “Let’s make TV history again—and you can kiss my black ass!”

Despite the cancellation of the series in 1969, Star Trek lived on in other ways, and continued to play a part in Nichols’ life. She again provided the voice of Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series; in one episode, “The Lorelei Signal”, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. Nichols noted in her autobiography her frustration that this never happened in the original series. Nichols has co-starred in six Star Trek motion pictures, the last one being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.



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NASA work[edit]

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.[16] She began this work by making an affiliation between NASA and a company which she helped to run, Women in Motion.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

The program was a success. Among those recruited were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Recruits also included Charles Bolden, the current NASA administrator, and Lori Garver, former Deputy Administrator.[22]

An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols has served since the mid-1980s on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun.[20]

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. She was also a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on July 17, 1976, to view the Viking 1 soft landing on Mars. Along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek series, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California.

On July 14, 2010, she toured the space shuttle simulator and Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.[23]



Star Trek

LOS ANGELES – NOVEMBER 22: Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in the STAR TREK episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Original air date, November 22, 1968. Season 3, episode 10. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)




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nichelle nichols_mae jemison

Nichelle Nichols and Astronaut Mae Jemison

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36 Responses to Saturday Open Thread | Black Women in Television: Nichelle Nichols

    • vitaminlover says:

      The sissies are so close ! Did you see how Malia let Sasha have a lick? How cute! Also I love Sasha’s voice. I so admire this family. They are truly Daddy’s girls!

  1. rikyrah says:

    Just finished watching Field of Dreams…again…crying my eyes out.

  2. Ametia says:


  3. rikyrah says:

    The Baltimore Sun ✔ @baltimoresun
    Some want to merge Morgan State University and the University of Baltimore to fix decades of segregation.

  4. rikyrah says:

    UH HUH
    UH HUH

    GOP Candidates Take Different View of Heroin Crisis
    November 27, 2015

    Several GOP presidential contenders have advocated treating the nation’s growing heroin epidemic as a health crisis, not a criminal one. But most stop short of advocating the same approach to other drug laws, notably those involving marijuana and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affect African Americans.

    Such views highlight the resonance and reach of the opiate epidemic — but also a persistent racial and geographic divide in American politics. The heroin epidemic has overwhelmingly hit whites. It has also skyrocketed to the top of voters’ lists of political priorities in the same bands of America — rural states, the suburbs and notably the early voting state of New Hampshire — that track directly with where Republicans must perform well to win back the White House next year

  5. rikyrah says:

    New Mobile App Allows Users to Search and Add Black-Owned Businesses

    The search for discovering black-owned businesses in metropolitan cities across the U.S. has just been made easier through a new mobile application known as Tuloko.

    The Yelp-like app gives consumers information at the tip of their fingers on black-owned or black-friendly businesses, curated news and events, along with a chat messenger service that allows users to connect based on shared interests. The tech startup is the brainchild of Sean Armstrong and Duane Johnson, two young St. Louis-based entrepreneurs.

    …Indeed, Tuloko’s name and concept were inspired by 1910s Tulsa, Oklahoma-based black community popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street.”

    Joel Dixon, an Atlanta-based business development specialist who has invested in the company, believes economic empowerment is much needed in the black community. “Unemployment in the black community will decrease when black-owned businesses are hiring more African Americans,” Dixon said. “So if we can start increasing the impact and growth of black businesses, then we can start decreasing black unemployment rates.”

    …The app is available for download on the Apple App store and the Google Play store. It allows consumers to search, add, and support black owned businesses and culturally tailored events and news. All types of black-owned businesses can be found or added onto the app, including restaurants, coffee shops, doctors’offices, and so on. It even enables consumers to write reviews, much like the popular social networking and local search website Yelp

    …“We don’t just want to be another group of people talking about the problem,” he said. “We want to now be able to provide a solution that can help address the problem and technology is one of those methods.” –

  6. rikyrah says:

    Austin mosque looking to increase security after alleged assault at UT

    Passerby attacks headphones-wearing Muslim student he suspected of taking orders from ISIS
    Nov 25, 2015

    A Muslim student was attacked near the University of Texas campus because a passerby thought he was listening to Islamic State instructions on his headphones.

    Police have stepped up patrols near Nueces Mosque, near the campus, after the student was shoved to the ground following terrorist attacks in Paris, reported KEYE-TV.

    The student was wearing headphones as he walked several blocks from the mosque, and the assailant yelled at him and accused him of taking instructions from the Islamic militant group.

    “This is like a wakeup call for us, we need to do something because we have students coming here,” said Umer Esmail, the mosque’s imam.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Trump Wants Apology from Reporter He Mocked
    November 27, 2015

    Washington Post: “A day after he was widely rebuked for mocking a reporter with a physical disability, business mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump on Thursday denied that he had done so and accused the reporter of ‘using his disability to grandstand.’ Trump also demanded an apology from the New York Times, the reporter’s employer, which earlier in the week issued a statement condemning Trump.”–and-demands-an-apology/2015/11/26/797e011c-9492-11e5-b5e4-279b4501e8a6_story.html

  8. rikyrah says:

    13-Year-Old Right Wing YouTube Star Quits The Right, Slams Movement’s Racism

    A young boy who became the toast of the right thanks to his anti-Obama YouTube videos has kicked conservatism to the curb.

    Thirteen year old CJ Pearson, who is black, has decided that there is too much racism on the right for him to be a part of it.

    CJ Pearson told CNN on Friday that concerns about the Republican Party’s viewpoints on racial and gender disparity as well as youth issues convinced him he could no longer be a mouthpiece for conservatism.

    “I was tired of being a champion of a party that turned a blind eye to racial discrimination. Tired of being a champion of any cause that denies equal rights to every American. Tired of being a champion of a party that doesn’t care about the issues important to young people,” Pearson wrote in an email.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Colin Campbell Verified account‏ @BKcolin
    “Don’t hurt the person, don’t hurt the person,” Donald Trump tells his crowd of an apparent protester.
    1:00 PM – 28 Nov 2015

  10. rikyrah says:

    Good Afternoon, Everyone :)

    Back from swimming and errands.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Good Morning, Lovely Chics & Chicettes. Though this is sad news, the video will make you smile. We all need some Sly cheer today:

  12. Liza says:

    Good morning, everyone. Y’all deserve a treat…

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