I woke up ridiculously early this morning (thanks, jet lag!) and learned of the passing of Nichelle Nichols.
I remembered hearing Nichols describing her early experiences on Star Trek, talking about planning to leave the show and being convinced to stay on by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [*]
It brought to mind a picture, taken years ago at a Star Trek exhibit at the Seattle Science Fiction Museum, of the epigram “Spock told me it was okay to be smart.”
As a young fan – watching Star Trek long after its initial debut – Uhura’s presence on the bridge, and on away teams, didn’t seem extraordinary. It seemed totally normal. The “diversity” of the crew was just … the way it was.
Before “you can’t be what you can’t see” entered the zeitgeist, Nichols (and Roddenberry) were showing.
Nichelle showed young women of color, and young women broadly, that it was okay to be them. That they could be a critical part of a crew, and be treated as equals.
That they could boldly go … just about anywhere.
Godspeed, Ms. Nichols.