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) and the movie role in 70s-80s. Her "Star Trek" character, one of the first African-American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, was groundbreaking in United States 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 Nichelle she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country.
Nichelle’s public service activities have been equally worthy of note. She served, since the mid-80s, as a member of the board of governors on the National Space Society. She is active in the leadership of the Space Cadets of America, an organization for young people interested in space and space careers.
Through her consulting firm, Women in Motion, Inc., Nichelle 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, Nichelle received NASA's Distinguished Public Service Award.
Nichelle is a strong supporter of former President Obama’s; STEM initiative. She has made it clear that the performing arts serve STEM initiatives through inspiring young and old alike to the wonder and majesty of technical innovation and accomplishment.
She volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency and has served since the mid-80s on the board of governors of the National Space Society.
She also flew aboard NASA’s; C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission.
Her publications include her autobiography, "Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories" and her fiction novels, "Saturn's Child" and "Saturna's Quest".
Nichelle was a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Robert A. Heinlein in part dedicated his 1982 novel "Friday" to her; she received an honorary degree from Los Angeles Mission College; the Asteroid 68410 Nichols is named in her honor.