Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge “Star Trek” fan, and his love for the show wasn’t mutually exclusive from his passion for ending racial prejudice.
“I am the biggest Trekkie on the planet, and I am lieutenant Uhura’s most ardent fan,” the civil rights activist reportedly told actress Nichelle Nichols when they met at a NAACP fundraiser in Beverly Hills.
Nichols played Communication Officer Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek” and is credited as playing the first nonarchetypal or stereotypical black woman on American television.
So when King heard the actress had plans to leave after the first season, he was adamant that she reconsider.
During a Reddit AMA last week, Nichols writes that King said something along the lines of, “Nichelle, whether you like it or not, you have become a 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 colour around the country if they saw me leave,” Nichols writes. “I saw that this was bigger than just me.”
As many “Star Trek” fans already know, Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, saw the show as a vehicle to influence social change.
“He didn’t talk about it, he just did it,” Nichols said of Roddenberry’s mission to create a better world. “It was who he was. He believed in that world, if you got it you got it. If you didn’t get it, you’d see it anyway.”
So when Nichols told Roddenberry that King helped her change her mind, he reportedly responded, “Finally, someone gets it.”
Nichols remained in her role until the show’s end in 1969, and she went on to work with NASA to help recruit females and minorities, including the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride. Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, also credits Nichol’s role as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.