Pioneering Star Trek Actress Nichelle Nichols Passes Away At 89
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Nichelle Nichols attends the Los Angeles premiere of CBS's "Star Trek: Discovery" held at The Cinerama Dome on September 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tran / FilmMagic via Getty Images

Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” has passed away at 89 years old, according to a statement from her family.

“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away,” her son Kyle Johnson wrote in a post shared on social media Sunday afternoon. “Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

“I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further,” he continued. “Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.”

Nichols was the first black woman to ever play a major role on a television series. She planned to leave after the show’s first season ended in 1966 but ultimately stayed after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped change her mind.

“‘You cannot, you cannot…for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers,’” Nichols recalled telling King in an interview published decades later. “‘If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a black role, and is not a female role, he can fill it with anybody even an alien.’”

Following her passing, numerous high profile fans remembered her life in posts on social media.

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89,” George Takei tweeted. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend. We lived long and prospered together.”

Georgia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams wrote: “One of my most treasured photos – Godspeed to Nichelle Nichols, champion, warrior and tremendous actor. Her kindness and bravery lit the path for many. May she forever dwell among the stars.”

Actress Lynda Carter tweeted: “Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”

This report has been updated to include additional information. 

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