“Uhura” comes from the Swahili word UHURU meaning “freedom”. Uhura was pretty much the first ever black main character on American television who was not a maid or a domestic servant in 1966. TV network NBC refused to let Nichelle Nichols be a regular, claiming Deep South affiliates would be angered, so Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry hired her as a “day worker,” but still included her in almost every episode. She actually made more money than any of the other actors through this workaround, and it was kept secret from the other actors, but it was still a humiliating second-class status. The network people made life hard for Nichols, constantly trying to pare down her screen time, purposefully dropping racist comments in her presence and even withholding her fan mail from her. This deplorable state of affairs led Nichols to make the decision to quit after the 1st season, but then she happened to meet the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who pleaded with her to stick with the show because as a Black woman she was portraying the first non-stereotypical role on television.
RE-BLOGGING AGAIN BECAUSE TODAY IS THE 46TH ANNIVERSARY OF STAR TREK AND UHURA IS A BABE AND NICHELLE NICHOLS IS AWESOME!
- after Star Trek was cancelled, she volunteered for a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency
- those recruited include: Dr. Sally Ride (the first American female astronaut), United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford (the first African-American astronaut), Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair (who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster), Charles Bolden (current NASA administrator), and Lori Garver (current Deputy Administrator).
- she flew aboard NASA’s C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission
Ever since Washington was carved from two slaveholding states in 1791, it has been a special place for black Americans. Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington about nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, prompting blacks from the region to flock here. It was the birthplace of Duke Ellington and home to other artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Sterling Allen Brown, who later fueled the Harlem Renaissance. By 1957, blacks had become the majority of the city’s residents, exceeding numbers in any major city in the United States. Ever since Walter E. Washington was appointed mayor by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, the city has been led by black politicians and shaped by black institutions. This has fostered a sense of black privilege, swagger and, yes, the hubris that comes with leadership.
There is no history of racism in this country that chalked ‘up only to race.’ You can’t really talk about stereotypes of, say, black laziness unless you understand stereotypes of the poor stretching back to 17th century Great Britain. You can’t really talk about the Southern slave society without grappling with the relationship between the demand for arable land and the demand for labor. You can’t understand the racial pogroms at the turn of the century without understanding the increasing mobility of American women.
And this works the other way too. If you’re trying to understand the nature of American patriotism without thinking about anti-black racism, you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the New Deal, without thinking about Southern segregationist senators you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the very nature of American democracy itself, and not grappling with black you, you will miss almost all of it.