Great stuff over at Geeks of Doom: Interview with Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols On Uhura’s Groundbreaking Kiss With Captain Kirk.
It’s hard to imagine that after only one season of playing the now iconic character, Nichols actually considered quitting the show because she felt Uhura didn’t have enough to do. “I thought she was a glorified telephone operator in space,” she once said, before she was famously convinced to continue doing the show by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King himself. “Dr. King was a big fan of the show,” Nichols told me. “He felt it was important that children of all races see an African American female appearing on television as an equal.” “Meanwhile, the NBC guys keep talking to the director about how the station affiliates in the South might react, which just made us all the more tense.”
In the end they were asked to do a kiss and kissless version, and William Shatner to his credit, apparently sabotaged the kissless version, forcing NBC to air the (at that time, 1968) completely shocking and unheard of act of a white man kissing a black woman on TV.
One can only hope that this sort of fear is long gone, or will be soon, and we (the collective viewership and media moguls in general) can start worrying about things that actually matter.
An aside, my favorite story about Nichelle Nicols is her influence on Whoopi Goldberg, found here (at almost the bottom of the page) upon seeing a woman of color on the TV in a position of power.