Nichelle Nichols is for ever in space in more ways than one. The Asteroid 68410 Nichols was named in her honour. Her ashes will also, soon be permanently in space.
Nichols will be accompanied with the remains of James Doohan, who played Star Trek’s chief engineer Scotty, and Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. Nicols is a woman who made her mark and was a leader who said that discrimination should be a thing of the past, particularly in the film world.
Friends and family will watch the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, carrying 200 vials of ashes and DNA samples. The Enterprise Flight will orbit the sun in deep space.
It will include the ashes of Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played nurse Christine Chapel on the series, and the renowned sci-fi visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull. His work was featured in such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Nichols Early Life
Nichols’ father became a mayor of the town of Robbins and a chief magistrate. Nichelle wanted to sing, dance, write and act from childhood. Her name, Nichelle, means ‘victorious maiden’ and she lived up to her name. She began her long career by studying dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy at age 12.
Between acting and singing engagements, Nichols did some modelling. She was featured on the Ebony magazine cover.
Nichols reached new heights with her sassy ground-breaking portrayal of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, on Star Trek. It not only made her a pop cultural icon, it opened the door to multicultural, multiracial interaction, that showed human diversity should be accepted and appreciated.
Martin Luther King
Nichols determined to leave the show and take up a Broadway offer at the end of the first season of Star Trek. She preferred the stage to the studio.
Nichola was convinced to stay with the television series through a chance encounter with Martin Luther King. He told her she could not leave the series as she was a vital role model for Black children and young women across the country. For the first time, a Black person was seen as being equal. King compared her work on the series to the marches of the ongoing civil rights movement.
Whoopi Goldberg also talked about the influence of Nichols. Goldberg asked for a role on the movie, Star Trek: The Next Generation. A part that was written just for Goldberg.
Nichols was twice nominated as Best Actress of the Year and danced with Sammy Davis in the movie Porgy and Bess. She served as executive producer and choreographer and composed and sang two songs in a film, besides acting in many other films and releasing two music albums. Nicholas was married twice, though she remained on her own for most of her life.
Nichols For Ever In Space
Nichols for ever in space, in that she impacted and permanently changed the American space program. It was the ‘old boys’ club’, all white Anglo-Saxon men, in a man’s world. Nichelle is a woman pioneer, who changed the world, refusing to be limited by the demands of society.
Women dreamed of becoming an astronaut, including Hillary Clinton. NASA turned her down, as only men could be part of the space program.
It was not only women who were barred from the space program, but Black men as well. The argument was that there were no qualified Black men.
Nichols Went From Fiction To Fact
Nichols went from science fiction to science fact, when she openly challenged NASA’s attitude towards women in space. Powers that be finally recognized that women were not only strong, but that they were smart as well.
In the 1970s, Nichols was hired by NASA to help recruit marginalized groups and women to the space agency. She was influential in attracting such talent as the first female US astronaut, Sally Ride, the first Black female astronaut, Mae Jemison, and the first Black NASA chief, Charlie Bolden.
Trailblazer Nichols For Ever In Space
Black women were no longer subjected to only being servants in Hollywood movies. Nichols broke that stereotype for all time. Her on-screen kiss with co-star William Shatner was a scandal. Nichols is an example of womanomics, proving women can rise to positions of great influence.
Nichols was described as a trailblazer and incomparable and an example of womanomics, proving women can rise to positions of great influence. She was a reminder that people of all walks of life, can reach for the stars.
Many have followed in Nichelle’s ground-breaking footsteps, joining the many ‘woman firsts‘ across the centuries. They called her a “Force of nature,” and she continued playing a major role in NASA, until she had a slight stroke and dementia in her later years.
Her son said on mother’s death, “Her light, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain with us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.”
Nichelle’s voice will be heard long after Nichols is forever in space. Like Nichelle, women everywhere have a sphere of influence that can be used to the good of others and can influence many others.
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