Star Trek Icon Nichelle Nichols Honored With NASA Achievement Medal At Los Angeles Comic-Con
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who convinced Nichols to stay when she considered leaving Star Trek, according to "Star Trek" actress Sonequa Martin-Green.
December 08, 2021 at 4:56 pm
Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols, who is best known for playing communications officer Nyota Uhura, was honored with the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal on Sunday when she appeared at Comic-Con in Los Angeles, People reports. NASA Astronaut Appearance Specialist Denise Young presented the award during a panel, recognizing the trailblazer for her four decades of work in diversifying the ranks within the space agency.
The crowd applauded in unison as the 88-year-old star rose from her wheelchair to accept the award. Her son, Kyle Johnson, also addressed the audience.
"A life well-lived is reward enough, every day, and my mother's certainly had a life well lived in many respects," Johnson told the audience, according to People. "This is an exceptional recognition, and I'm of course very proud of her for all that she's done, and the value and the meaning of her work. Not just as an actress, but very real and important work that she inspired and enabled people to understand."
Star Trek: Discovery actress Sonequa Martin-Green honored the actress in a video tribute. Martin-Green also reflected on meeting Nichols for the first time at the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery.
"I remember the great ball of nervousness that was in my stomach as I was approaching her, but she whispered to me in my ear so delicately. She said, 'Take care. It's yours now,'" Martin-Green said. "And I melted. And I needed that. I needed that blessing. She made me feel welcomed. She made me feel justified and she made me feel empowered."
Martin-Green said it was Martin Luther King Jr. who convinced Nichols to stay when she considered leaving Star Trek to return to Broadway. King, according to Martin-Green, told the actress to stay because her character, Uhura, was inspiring for underrepresented groups.
"Nichelle's legacy can be described as that of sacrificial, heroic contribution," Martin-Green said. "She decided to stay, and ultimately devoted her entire self to the progression of Black people, people of color and women. And she gave everything. She gave her time, her energy. She gave her intelligence, her wisdom, her leadership and her heart for the betterment of the world and the future. I am only here because of her."
The three-day celebration at L.A. Comic-Con was the final convention appearance for Nichols. During the event, the actress signed autographs and took photos with fans. She was also honored at several panels throughout the convention.
Nichols has been mesmerizing her fans since the 1960s, performing on stage and on TV. She faced a setback in 2018 when she was diagnosed with dementia. As Blavity previously reported, Nichols has been caught up in an ongoing conservatorship battle involving her son and her former manager, Gilbert Bell. The actress, however, appeared to be upbeat at the convention over the weekend.
Former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison reflected on Nichols' legacy and shared one of the actress' insights: "One of the things that you've heard everyone say when they talk about meeting and spending any time in Miss Nichelle Nichols' presence is warmth and generosity," Jemison said, according to People. "And you feel like you've known her, because she is that real, not just relatable, but that important and sentient in our lives. She said to me, 'Life is what the universe gave you for free when you were born. But style is what you do with it.'"