Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer, and voice artist. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series (1966-1969), as well as the succeeding motion pictures. Ms. Nichols' Star Trek character, one of the first African-American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, was groundbreaking in U.S. society at the time. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally praised her work on the show and asked her to remain when she was considering leaving the series. Dr. King told Ms. Nichols she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country.
Ms. Nichols' public service activities have been equally worthy of note. She has served since the mid-1980s as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, and been active in the leadership of the Space Cadets of America, an organization for young people interested in space and space careers. Through her consultant firm, Women in Motion, Inc., Ms. Nichols was instrumental in the NASA Astronaut Corps' pioneering effort to break away from their all-white, all-male past; among those recruited were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut. For her efforts and continued success, Ms. Nichols received NASA's distinguished Public Service Award.
Nichelle Nichols is also a strong supporter of President Obama's STEM initiative. She has made it clear that the performing arts serve as an attendant to STEM initiatives though inspiring young and old alike to the wonder and majesty of technical innovation and accomplishment.