Nichelle Nichols, one of the first Black women to play a major role on primetime television, died on Saturday (July 30th) at the age of 89. Nichols was most known for her work on Star Trek: The Original Series as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, a role that Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.”
Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, released a statement to her official website Sunday (July 31st). “Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” he wrote. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”
The trailblazing actress portrayed one of the first interracial kisses on US television with her Star Trek costar William Shatner. Many stars took to social media to honor her legacy.
George Takei wrote, “I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.” He added, “We lived long and prospered together.” Lynda Carter, Kate Mulgrew, and Stacey Abrams also honored the late actress.