Uhura:The First African-American TV Role For a Woman That Was Not a Maid or Domestic Servant

Written by Jae Jones

Do you remember ? Most people who are   fans definitely remember the character on the show. She was a beautiful woman who first appeared into the role in 1966. She was the first African-American woman to appear in an American television role that was not a maid or a domestic servant. Athough, Uhura (a Swahili word meaning “freedom) was hired to work on the film, the network NBC refused to let (Uhura) be a regular. The network claimed that people with Deep South affiliates would be angered. So, the network did not want to lose her completely so Gene Roddenberry hired her as a “day worker.” Uhura first appears in the episode “The Man Trap,” joining the crew of the USS Enterprise as a lieutenant, and serves as chief communications officer under Captain Kirk. She is depicted as a capable bridge officer and readily manned the helm, navigation and science stations on the bridge when the need arose. Uhura was also a talented singer, and enjoyed serenading her shipmates when off-duty; Spock occasionally accompanied her on the Vulcan lyre.


Nichols, character Uhura, actually made more money than any other characters. However, that was a secret that was not to be shared with any of the other actors/actresses. Although, Nichols was making more money the network continued to make life difficult for her, they were forever playing down her screen time. There were many racist comments made in her presence, and her fan mail was even withheld from her. Nichols made the decision to quit after the first season.


Nichols plans were to quit, however, she met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a fan of the show. He explained that her character signified a future of greater racial harmony and cooperation. He also explained to her that she was the future of where Black people in the country were going. He asked her to keep doing what she was doing because she was an inspiration to the country.


In her autobiography, Nichols stated that she was involved in an extramarital affair with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for several years in the 1960s, well before Star Trek began. She said the affair ended when she and Roddenberry realized he was in love with Majel Hudec, who coincidentally was an acquaintance of Nichols, When Roddenberry’s health was fading, Nichols co-wrote a song for him, entitled “Gene”, which she sang at his funeral.





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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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