We are so very sorry to share the news that Nichelle Nichols, “Star Trek” and civil rights icon, has passed away.
The news was confirmed by her official social media channels.
Nichols was one of the first stars of Gene Roddenbery‘s original “Star Trek” series, which first aired September 8th, 1966. Perhaps one of the more famous stories about the Original Series came about when Nichols wanted to leave the show. The news reached one Dr. Martin Luthur King Jr., who eventually convinced her to stay in the role.
“I was offered a role on Broadway,” Nichols shared on Reddit. “I was a singer on stage long before I was an actress, and Broadway was always a dream to me. I was ready to leave Star Trek and pursue what I’d always wanted to do.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, quite some time after I’d first met him, approached me and said something along the lines of ‘Nichelle, whether you like it or not, you have become an symbol. If you leave, they can replace you with a blonde haired white girl, and it will be like you were never there. What you’ve accomplished, for all of us, will only be real if you stay.’ That got me thinking about how it would look for fans of color around the country if they saw me leave. I saw that this was bigger than just me.”
“I got to do a lot of singing after the series ended,” she added.