"Star Trek" may not have been the show it was without the influence of Martin Luther King Jr., reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker blog.
Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the iconic show, said she tried to leave "Star Trek" after its first season because she felt "it was going nowhere for me," she said at a panel at the Television Critics Association press tour. Even though producer Gene Roddenberry asked her to reconsider, the biggest impact came the next night at an NAACP fundraiser where she was introduced to someone who told her he was her "biggest fan," the article says.
That fan? Martin Luther King Jr. The civil-rights leader told Nichols that "Star Trek" was the sole television show he and his wife would permit their three children to watch.
The reason: in the real world, African-Americans were being discriminated against for wanting to break down racial divides, but on the starship, a black woman was portrayed as an astronaut., the story says. “He said what Gene Roddenbery had done was to establish who we were in the 23rd century," she said. She says King added, "You are part of history, and it’s your responsibility, even though it wasn’t your career choice.”