GOOD

How MLK Convinced Nichelle Nichols to Stick With Star Trek

An iconic actress and a long-running sci-fi series share a history of progressive firsts

Image of Nichelle Nichols from the January, 1967 edition of Ebony magazine. Photo by Desilu Productions

Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry’s classic, long-running sci-fi series, has long been noted for its progressive values and humanist philosophy. In the world of Star Trek, which debuted in 1966, man’s future was unburdened with petty issues of race and gender. Rodenberry took pains to assemble a diverse cast, and though the studio vetoed the “crazy” idea, he originally wrote the role of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s first officer (which eventually became Leonard Nimoy’s Spock) for a woman. But while the show certainly contended with the bigotries and sensibilities of its day, it still managed to push through a number of historic firsts, many of which came from the pioneering work of Nichelle Nichols, the Enterprise’s own Lieutenant Uhura.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

The Unsteady Shelf Life of a Social Justice Symbol

CeCe McDonald was a powerful force for change. Will the memory of her impact be as powerful?

When one looks back at historic social movements, there are certain names that stand out—Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Rosa Parks. But there are also those whose faces history has forgotten. Consider Ella Baker and Bob Moses, former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leaders who furthered civil rights for black Americans, or Mario Savio of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Their names might be footnoted in history books, but what happened to them after the sweep of their movements dispensed?

There are people so impassioned by a cause that they come to symbolize it, at least for a time. Yet their fame is brief, sometimes by design, sometimes by default of a rapid news cycle. Sometimes their radical conviction fades or stops all together. Sometimes their tragic circumstances morph from galvanizing to depressing, a reminder of a movement’s failure instead of its success. Other times they achieve their goals, and their work is finished.

Keep Reading Show less
Features

9 Ways Kids Keep Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Alive

Fifty years after King received the Nobel Peace Prize, youth continue to spread the civil rights leader’s message.

Fifty years ago, on October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr., received the Nobel Peace Prize. The award came a year after the civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., and months after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. King learned about the recognition while at an Atlanta hospital for a checkup and accepted the award weeks later in Oslo, Norway. His 12-minute acceptance speech touched on themes of nonviolence, freedom, and peace.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

That Martin Luther King Quote Is Fake; Use These Instead

The famous civil rights leader did have a great quote for today's news, but it's probably not the one you've seen.

An apparently fake Martin Luther King Jr. quotation is making the internet rounds today in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing, probably because the passage seems tailor-made for such an event. The quotation—"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy"—has been popping up in Twitter feeds around the world, and yet it's nowhere to be found in any of the extensive online records of King's famous historical speeches and writings.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. Cheated on His Wife and Got Drunk; Big Deal

A writer asks us to stop ignoring the fact that the civil rights leader was a human being.


For years now the white power organization Stormfront has parked an anti-Martin Luther King Jr. website at MartinLutherKing.org, the hope being, presumably, that people innocuously searching for information about the civil rights leader will be shocked upon discovering that King drank alcohol and had extramarital affairs. Today, hopefully, the purveyors of that website may think about taking it down.

That's because in today's Washington Post, on the 43rd anniversary of King's assassination, writer Hampton Sides makes the very important, oft-overlooked point that a man's flaws don't necessarily outweigh their contributions to the world. After noting that one of King's mistresses had spent the night with King the evening before he was killed, Sides writes, "King was a human being: flawed, vulnerable, uncertain about the future, subject to appetites and buffeted by the extraordinary stresses of his position. His civil rights cause was holy, but he was a sinner."

Keep Reading Show less
Articles