I am truly sad to report that Nichelle Nichols has left this Earthly realm. Her character on Star Trek, Nyota Uhura, was an icon for me from my childhood, when I breathlessly watched her on the premiere episodes of the original series. Here was a lovely, effective, and integral member of the crew, fourth in command on the USS Enterprise and able to assume any of the responsibilities on the bridge when necessary. She was not the Captain’s wife; she was not there to make Space Coffee, nor was she there to push a mop or broom. Uhura’s mission was to boldly go where no woman, and certainly no Black woman, had gone before.
It was my honor to meet Ms. Nichols in 1992 in the green room at I-Con in Stonybrook, NY. I was speaking on several panels in the horror literature track, thanks to my work on Grue, and she was, well, Nichelle Nichols. We were both at the coffee bar, seeking sugar packets. I was somewhat tongue-tied but I do remember thanking her for the impact she’d made on my life, and commenting on the beautiful coat she was wearing. It was early April, damp and brisk on Long Island and she laughed and said she wasn’t taking it off anytime soon. She was sweet and always smiling.
You can read about her encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King and her work with NASA elsewhere. I’m just here to say that as a little girl, I was thrilled to see a woman working in space on the United Federation of Planet’s flag ship, taking on important responsibilities, and that inspiration has stayed with me for the entirety of my life. Nichelle Nichols and Nyota Uhura, who completed her career with the Federation as Captain of the USS Leondegrance, are both part of the cosmos now, and will live on as such legends do, continuing to encourage future generations to boldly go into that eternal frontier. I’ve never believed it was final.
—Maga Peggy Nadramia,
Church of Satan
Image of Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura from her Memory Alpha entry.