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‘Going Where No (Wo)man Had Gone Before’

Nichelle Nicholls and Dr. Spock on the set of Star Trek.

Nichelle Nichols has passed away at the age of 89. Ms. Nichols played the beautiful and smart Lieutenant Uhura on the iconic Star Trek series, which ran from 1966-1969. Nichelle Nichols was among the first Black women to have a leading role in a TV series when she played Lt. Uhura on the Starship U.S.S. Enterprise. Clad in her red Starfleet uniform-a mini -dress made from a synthetic velour fabric, with gold braid details and a black collar, worn with sensibly heeled black boots- Ms. Nichols attracted quite a following. In a November 1968 episode, during the show’s third and final season, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura were forced to embrace by the inhabitants of a strange planet, resulting in perhaps the first interracial kiss in TV history.

Nichelle Nichols and Captain Kirk embraced in a kiss.

While she may be best remembered for her role on Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols also played an impactful role in her association with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a representative and speaker. In 1977, her first in that role, Ms. Nichols spoke to recruit both female and minority candidates for space flight training; the following year’s class of astronaut candidates was the first to include women and minorities.

Ebony magazine, in 1967, called Nichelle Nichols the “most heavenly body in Star Trek,” but her roles as both an actress and advocate for women and minorities in astronaut training were impressive and historically significant.

Nichole Nicholls.

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