How Dr. King Influenced Lt. Uhura’s Life
planetwaves.net: Nichelle Nichols herself has made history over the years, playing the role of Lt. Commander (later Commander) Uhura on the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Star Trek TV show and series of movies. Nichols was among the first prominent African American actors to regularly appear on a network TV show in a capacity other than a maid or subservient role to a white character. Yes, Kirk was in command, but we also know that he had respectful relationships with his crew; that he viewed them as colleagues and was respected by them as their leader.
Nichols would go on and serve as a spokesperson for NASA and the NAACP, and literally be the inspiration for hundreds of African-Americans to join NASA. Among these was Mae Jamison, whom Nichols met when Jamison was at Cornell Medical School and who Nichols personally inspired to become an astronaut upon completion of her medical degree.
An encounter with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would persuade Nichols to stay on the show which she had planned to leave, halfway through the second year of the series.