World Responds to Death of Legendary Star Trek Star

Legendary TV star Nichelle Nichols died at the age of 89 on Sunday, according to a statement from her son, Kyle Johnson. She was best known for her iconic role as Lt. Nyota Shura in “Star Trek.”

“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. 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,” Johnson said in a statement that can be found on Nichol’s official website. 

Nichols was a trailblazer in many ways. When “Star Trek” first aired in 1966, it was rare for a black woman to have a significant role in a prime-time television series. This character was not a domestic worker, she was an integral part of the multicultural crew. 

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called it “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.”

The world stopped to notice when Nichols participated in one of the first interracial kisses on United States television. Her character kissed Captain James T. Kirk, played by iconic star Williams Shatner. 

While doing an interview with CNN in 2014, Nichols said that kiss scene “changed television forever, and it also changed the way people looked at one another.”

After starring in the show for its three-season, Nichols invested herself in the space program. She helped NASA make the agency more diverse. She was influential in helping to recruit astronauts Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, and Guion Bluford, among others.

George Takei, who played the USS Enterprise’s helmsman Hikaru Sulu, gave this tribute to his co-star: “I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

“We lived long and prospered together,” he added and posted a photo of the pair making the Vulcan salute.


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