Star Trek: The Original Series and the Effect on the Multiracial Community

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Star Trek: The Original Series” (ST: TOS) was the first American television series to cast an African American female in a leading and non-menial role. It also showcased a multicultural crew. The casting of Nichelle Nichols, as Lieutenant Uhura the communications officer, was a breakthrough for U.S. society at the time. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader, personally celebrated her work even asking her to continue in her position when she was considering leaving. Soon after her character Uhura was promoted to Starfleet in the rank of commander. The symbolism behind this movement, paired with the starship’s purpose in the opening credits and the continuing of the series into a franchise, was an advance for the African American community.
Nichelle Nichols was already a major talent in the acting community. She began her career at sixteen by singing with Duke Ellington and his band. She soon found her true passion in acting and was nominated twice for the Sarah Siddons award for “best actress”. She had many other accomplishments but found herself guest starring on Gene Roddenberry’s first series “The Lieutenant”. This led to an offer to be cast as ST: TOS’ Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. Nichelle kept playing this role long after the show was through with several follow up movies with the Star Trek franchise. She broke the stereotype for modern representation of African American females. Nichelle was a three-dimensional actor that finally had a three-dimensional character written for her. Her casting, character, and portrayal of Uhura changed societies outlook on African American women and African American talent. Nichelle, at one point after the first season, wanted to leave the show. After an uplifting and invigorating speech from Martin Luther King Jr. she was convinced to stay on the show. Many people found out about this and it changed the way that people saw her character and her role in society.
One of the most memorable moments in ST: TOS’ history is the kiss between the character Lieutenant Nyota Uhura and Captain James Kirk. It is famed as the first scripted interracial kiss on American television. It was one of the most influential events for multiracial performers and the general outlook on the African American community as a whole. There’s also symbolism behind the kiss. ST: TOS is set in the future, as are the characteristics of the show. When Gene Roddenberry wrote that a Caucasian male and an African American female were going to hook up in a futuristic show, it implied that he wanted African Americans and Caucasians, in the future, to be united as a mass number of human beings instead of the overwhelming amount of segregation and racism. The same principle goes for the colorful cast. Roddenberry was trying to show the world how these people could live and work together, with multiracial men and women in positions...

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