How Martin Luther King Jr. Transformed Nichelle Nichols and Star Trek

Nichelle Nichols was cast in the role of Communications Officer Uhura on the original TV series “Star Trek” in 1966. But a routine casting decision it was not, as Nichols overnight became an icon and role model. But it took a chance meeting with a powerful and charismatic man to convince her of her own stature.

Photo by Alan Light

Nichols was a show business veteran by the time Gene Roddenberry selected her for “Star Trek.” So just one year into her journey where “no man had gone before,” Nichols was anxious to try something else new.

Then she met a fan who changed her mind and changed her life.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day in the U.S., so today, the story of how Dr. King changed Nichelle Nichols’s life and career, and even the very direction that “Star Trek” took. It’s a story Nichols told in her 1994 memoir Beyond Uhura. That’s when I met her.

So here now, from 1994, Nichelle Nichols.

Nichelle Nichol cied in 2022 at age 89.

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Carl T. Rowan

As a young journalist in the 1950s, Carl T. Rowan covered the emerging civil rights movement, and its leaders, including people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

The reputation he built came to the attention of President John F. Kennedy, who, in 1961, name Rowan to a high level position in the State Department.

And in 1963, Kennedy appointed Rowan ambassador to Finland.

Row and remain in the government for three years after Kennedy’s assassination, before resuming what would be a long and acclaimed journalism career.

I first met him in 1991, what he wrote a memoir called Breaking Barriers.

In this interview, you’ll also hear a reference to “thje gun incident” — in 1988 Rowan confronted an intruder at his home, and shot and wounded him with what turned out to be an unregistered handgun.

So here now, from 1991, Carl T. Rowan.

Carl T, Rowan died in 2000, at age 75.

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Andrew Young

Was the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s a social or political movement? It was, but it was also a religious or spiritual movement, says former Congressman and UN Ambassador Andrew Young.

In a 1994 book called A Way Out of No Way, Young, a confidant of Martin Luther King jr., a former preacher, former Atlanta mayor, told his own story against the backdrop of the movement that he was a key part of.

So here now, from 1994, Andrew Young:

Ambassador Andrew Young will be 89 next month.


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