Nichelle Nichols is an actress and singer whose groundbreaking role as Lieutenant Uhura in the popular TV series Star Trek helped change the face of American television. Her character was one of the first African American females not portrayed as a servant, but as a confident, authoritative woman. Nichols also made history when she kissed actor William Shatner in an episode of the show. This was one of the first examples of interracial kissing on U.S. television. Her work on Star Trek has influenced many women like Mae Jemison and Whoopi Goldberg. After Star Trek Nichols worked with NASA to increase the number of minority and female personnel for the space agency. Her work helped recruit the first African American in space, the first female astronaut, and the current NASA Administrator (an African American male). Nichols is described as an enthusiastic advocate of space exploration and an inspiration in black history.
“Star Trek had a huge impact on people’s thinking and attitudes toward other people, our lives, toward people who are different.”