Star Trek's Uhura is a boss

Nichelle Nichols is an inspirational actress and one of the first African-Americans on TV during the late 1960’s that did not portray a servant nor a slave.


Nichelle is most famous for her role Uhura in Star Trek from 1966 to 1969. She wanted to quit the show, but had a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which changed her mind. Dr. King told her of the impact her role had on viewers. 

"You have the first non-traditional role, non-stereotypical role...You are changing the minds of people across the world." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Off screen, Nichelle was instrumental for women at work. She told NASA they needed to hire more women and more women of color, which resulted in her leading a diverse recruitment campaign through a consulting company she established named Women in Motion Inc.

Overtime, she helped to recruit an estimated 8,000 to NASA including Mae Carol Jemison, Stanford University 1977, the first African American woman to travel to space. Mae is known for being an accomplished physician, engineer and NASA astronaut. Nichelle's efforts led to many notable NASA employees - too many to name in this post. 

That’s not all! Many actresses, like Whoopie Goldberg, said they were inspired to act when they saw Nichols onscreen.

Let’s not forget, William Shatner, a white actor, aka Captain Kirk and Nichelle Nichols are widely known for the first interracial kiss on U.S television in 1968 – towards the end of the Civil Rights Movement. The scene was groundbreaking by taking place at a time in history where racial tension was at an all time high.

Photo of Mae Jemison

Photo of Mae Jemison

On and off the big screen Nichelle Nichols was an all-around star. She has continuously used her platform for good and even has an asteroid named after her!

Learn more about Nichelle's impact in the short video produced by the Smithsonian Channel below. 

Source: Smithsonian Channel