In Memoriam: Nichelle Nichols
The NASA Astrobiology Program mourns the loss of one of our most precious national treasures, Nichelle Nichols.
Our community had the great good fortune of her presence as the host of our first ever FameLab USA National Final in 2012, a science communication competition held in Atlanta, Georgia, during the Astrobiology Science Conference. Before she graced the stage, we introduced her thus:
“It seems only appropriate that the Chief Communications Officer of the Starship Enterprise should be part of the inaugural FameLab Astrobiology competition! Here tonight with us is Ms. Nichelle Nichols.
When Ms. Nichols was cast by Gene Roddenberry to create Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, fourth in command of the Starship Enterprise, in his legendary TV series Star Trek, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, it became ‘The first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history.’
In 1992, she became the first African-American to place her handprints and signature in the cement walk at the famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre along with her other command crew members of the Starship Enterprise. They were also honored in a special exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, an unprecedented accolade for the entertainment industry.
Ms. Nichols’ public service activities have been equally outstanding. Working with NASA in the late ‘70’s, she successfully recruited the first women and minority astronauts for the Space Shuttle Program, for which she received NASA’s distinguished Public Service Award. She continues to be a close friend and staunch supporter of Dr. Mae Jemison who first saw Lt. Uhura when she was nine years old and was determined to follow her dream to become the first woman of color Astronaut…which she did. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Nichelle Nichols!”
Nichelle Nichols hosts the first ever FameLab USA National Final in 2012, a science communication competition held in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 2012 Astrobiology Science Conference.
So, Ms. Nichols, thank you for your gift of vision and inspiration. Live long and prosper!