Nichelle Nicks, who was a pioneer in Hollywood for Black women when she played the role of Lt. Uhura, a communications officer, on “Star Trek,” has passed away at the age 89.
Her child Kyle Johnson stated that Nichols had died in Silver City (New Mexico) on Saturday.
“Last evening, Nichelle Nichols (my mother) died from natural causes. Johnson posted on Sunday that her light, just like ancient galaxies, would remain for future generations. Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page Sunday, “Hers was an excellent life and as such it is a great example for all .”
Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt. Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. She was also praised for breaking stereotypes which had restricted Black women to serving roles in the service industry. It featured an inter-racial kiss between William Shatner and Nichols, something that was rare at that time.
” I will have more to share about Nichelle Nichols who was Lt. Uhura on the USS Enterprise and passed away today, 89,” George Takei said in a tweet. My dearest friend .”
, today my heart breaks, and my eyes shine like the stars among which you rest, for today.
Since her appearances in the original cast, Nichols has also been in six major-screen spinoffs with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. She is also a frequent visitor to “Star Trek’ fan conventions. Her many years of service as a NASA recruiter helped to bring women and minorities into the astronaut corps.
The original Star Trek aired on NBC September 8, 1966. Its multicultural, multiracial cast was creator Gene Roddenberry’s message to viewers that in the far-off future – the 23rd century – human diversity would be fully accepted.
” I think that many people took that into their hearts…that what was being shown on TV at the time was something to celebrate,” Nichols stated in 1992 during a Smithsonian Institution exhibit on “Star Trek”.
She fondly recalled Martin Luther King Jr. being a big fan and how she was appreciated for her part in it. He met her at an 1967, civil rights meeting, just as she was considering quitting the show for its second season.
” When I said that I would miss my co-stars on the show and was leaving, he got serious. He told me, “You can’t do it,”” she explained to The Tulsa World (Okla.), in an 2008 interview.
“‘You have changed television’s face forever and, therefore, people’s minds.” She said that the civil rights leader had told her.
” Having the foresight of Dr. King was an incredible gift in my life,” Nichols stated.
She was a regular on “Heroes” television series, playing the role of the great aunt to a boy who has mystical abilities.