Star Trek fans around the world were saddened this weekend to learn that actress Nichelle Nichols had died at the age of 89.
Nichols played the character of Nyota Uhura on “Star Trek: The Original Series,” a role which she later reprised in several films.
Son calls veteran actress “a model for us all”
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away,” Johnson wrote on Sunday.
“Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” he said. Johnson then went on to stress that his mother’s life had been “well lived and as such a model for us all.”
“I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further,” he continued.
He explained that Nichols’ “services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.”
MLK convinced Nichols to continue her role on “Star Trek”
Nichols recalled in a 2013 interview that she had originally planned to leave ‘Star Trek’ after the first season but chose to stay following a conversation with civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The actress said that King pointed out how her presence on the show was important as it came at a time when there were relatively few positive depictions of African Americans in popular culture.
“‘You cannot, you cannot…for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers,'” Nichols quoted him as saying.
“‘If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a black role, and is not a female role, he can fill it with anybody even an alien,'” King pointed out.