To Boldly Go: How Nichelle Nichols and Star Trek Helped Advance Civil Rights
Written by Angela Dalton: Illustrations by Lauren Semmer
Harper. An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. 2023
Many people, myself included, loved Star Trek for showing the possibility that their could be peace and acceptance throughout the universe if we only would embrace one another as equals. For Angela Dalton, TV night - the best night- meant a glass of sweet, syrupy red Kool-Aid and the show, Star Trek. Watching the crew of the starship Enterprise “boldly go where no man has gone before”, exploring strange new worlds was very entertaining, however, for Davis, seeing Lieutenant Uhura “brought them pride that someone who looked like us standing as an equal to make the future better for everyone.”
To Boldly Go is an empowering tribute to Nichelle Nichols, who played Star Trek’s communication officer, Lieutenant Uhura. Though her character showed her unlimited opportunities, in real life Nichols was faced with racist attitude that, for some reason, white people think they are better than Black people. As popular as she was playing Lieutenant Uhura, Dalton highlights the many instances where Nichols lost her self confidence. “It seemed neither she nor her character would ever be seen as important or equal.”
It was after a chance meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that changed her plans of quitting Star Trek. Dr. King said, “you have opened a door that must not be allowed to close. Don’t you see that you’re not just a role model for Black Children? You’re important for people who don’t look like us. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people.”
Dalton explains in the summary, Beyond Star Trek, Nichols was asked by NASA to help them make a positive connection with women and minority astronaut candidates. Nichols said she would, but threatened to file a class-action law suit if, in a years time, “I still see a [white], all-male astronaut corps.”
This powerful picture book biography traces thelife of Nichelle Nichols, as well as, emphasizing how influential her character, Lieutenant Uhura was in encouraging equality and the interest in space exploration. Highlighting the narrative is the bold art of Lauren Semmer. The marriage of words and art really bring this story to life.
Included throughout are direct quotes from Nichelle Nichols. She
Nichelle came up with the name “Uhura” which is a Swahili word for “Freedom”. To Nichols, it meant strong, independent, equal.