Nichelle Nichols, Groundbreaking ‘Star Trek’ Actress passes away at 89

Nichelle Nichols, actress for the character, Lieutenant Nyota Uhara, passed away last Saturday due to heart failure at 89 years old. She was one of the first Black women in America to have such an impactful role in a TV series, as her role destroyed stereotypes of African Americans and put her in a position of authority, which was unheard of for its time back in the late 60s. During the show’s third and last season, she shared a kiss with co-star William Shatner, which was one of the first interracial kisses in television history and “changed television forever and also changed the way people look at one another” according to Nichols herself.

Her influence also stretched beyond the grounds of television, as in 1977, Nichols started an association with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and became a a representative and speaker to help recruit young women and minority candidates for space training. The year after it started was the first to include both women and minority groups and in 2012, she served as a keynote speaker during African American History Month at the Goddard Space Center about a news release for diversity in space.