"...Boston, a city my father once described as the most racist in America. My father is Bill Russell, center for the Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years. Recently, I asked him if it was difficult to send me to school here. When he first went to Boston in 1956, the Celtics' only black player, fans and sportswriters subjected him to the worst kind of unbridled bigotry...
Every time the Celtics went out on the road, vandals would come and tip over our garbage cans. My father went to the police station to complain. The police told him that raccoons were responsible, so he asked where he could apply for a gun permit. The raccoons never came back.
The only time we were really scared was after my father wrote an article about racism in professional basketball for The Saturday Evening Post. He earned the nickname Felton X. We received threatening letters, and my parents notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What I find most telling about this episode is that years later, after Congress had passed the Freedom of Information Act, my father requested his F.B.I. file and found that he was repeatedly referred to therein as ''an arrogant Negro who won't sign autographs for white children.''
My father has never given autographs, because he thinks they are impersonal. He would rather shake a person's hand or look that person in the eye and say, ''Pleased to meet you.'' His attitude has provoked racist responses, and these have tended to obscure the very basic issue of the right to privacy. Any professional athlete, and certainly any black professional athlete, is supposed to feel grateful to others for the fame he or she has achieved. The thoughtless interruptions, the insistence by fans that they be recognized and personally thanked for their support, never let up..."
— from Growing Up With Privilege and Prejudice by Karen Russell in The New York Times, June 14, 1987
“Don’t you realize how important your presence, your character is? Don’t you realize this gift this man [Roddenberry] has given the world? Men and women of all races going forth in peaceful exploration, living as equals. You listen to me: Don’t you see? This is not a Black role, and this is not a female role. You have the ﬁrst nonstereotypical role on television, male or female. You have broken ground… . Don’t you see that you’re not just a role model for little Black children. You’re more important for people who don’t look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people—as we should be. There will always be role models for Black children; you are a role model for everyone. Remember, you are not important there in spite of your color. You are important there because of your color.”
And so it’s because of a serendipitous encounter with one Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that Nichelle Nichols continued her role as Uhura. In doing so, she inspired a generation of people towards their dreams including, Academy Award winning actress Whoopi Goldberg, who had a recurring role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who was the first African American woman in space.
Additionally, as Yvonne D. Sims notes in her book, Women of Blaxploitation: How the Black Action Film Heroine Changed American Popular Culture, Nichols was one of several actresses that showed audiences for the first time that “the range of diverse beauty among African American women was not defined by mammy, the exotic other, Aunt Jemima, or Sapphire roles.”
— from Where No Woman Has Gone Before: An Actress Spotlight on Nichelle Nichols by Jennifer K. Stuller in Bitch Media, July 29, 2009
The Destiny of Earthseed
Is to take root among the stars.
It is to live and to thrive
On new earths.
It is to become new beings
And to consider new questions.
It is to leap into the heavens
Again and again.
It is to explore the vastness
It is to explore the vastness
— from Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler