15DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CONVINCED NICHOLS TO STAY IN THE ROLE
Nichols endured a considerable amount of racist harassment for her part in Star Trek. Her role as a main character and vital bridge officer were still unprecedented in television at the time.
She also wanted to pursue a career more focused in Broadway, and was frustrated that her role rarely
included anything doing or saying anything more than “hailing frequencies open, sir.” After her first year in the part, she had decided to leave the show.
The day after she told Roddenberry her decision, Nichols appeared at a NAACP fund-raiser and was told that a big fan wanted to meet her. That fan turned out to be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He told Nichols that he was a huge fan of the show, and that he and his wife would let their children would stay up late to watch it. When Nichols mentioned her plans to leave, Dr. King said “you can’t. You’re part of history.”
He told her that she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country and for other children as well, who would see black people being treated as equals. Nichols was convinced and continued playing the role in TV and films for 25 years.