Ever since she took on the role of Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols has been an icon of pop-culture and the Civil Rights Movement along with a role model for so many people. She was instrumental in paving the way for space pioneers like Mae Jemison and Sally Ride while inspiring so many to become more involved in science.
However, there is a difference between learning about the impact of Nichols legacy and seeing the people she inspired. Something that was made possible during an interview with her on the first day of Silicon Valley Comic Con 2018. This was going to be an opportunity to learn more about her current project, Noah’s Room. Instead, it became the chance to see the impact she had on people at her autograph booth.
One of the first questions I asked her was if she could share a recent example of someone who was inspired by her work. In regards to her answer, she was modest about it as there was too much to share at the moment. However, it didn’t take long to hear an example from an attendee who thanked her for all she has done.
Before we could get back to our interview, a large group came to pay their respects to Nichols. It’s hard to say how many people came up to the booth to either show their admiration for her work or to express how much of an impact she has had on their lives, but it was a testament to how one character could have a profound impact.
Even though she could not share details about Noah’s Room (due to its ongoing bidding war), having the chance to sit next to her and see the people she inspired was a great honor on its own. I would get to see more of the influence she has had during the weekend either at panels or talking to other attendees. Most notably was during her introduction of Dr. Mae Jemison, she was greeted to the stage by a roaring applause from the audience (with several shouting “We love you”).
On the expo floor, I also meet several fans who were happy to share their thoughts about Nichols. One fan was Ash Ramirez who stated, “I grew up watching the old Star Trek with my parents and I always looked up to Lt. Uhura. You could say that Nichelle Nichols is the reason I’m studying computer science now, I thank her for paving the way for women like me.“
Another fan was Lilly Gharib who stated, “I grew up in a very male dominated society and it was because of women like Nichelle Nichols that encourged me to come to America and be my own person.”
For Nichols, it has always been about doing what she loves and that is meeting Trekkies. Regardless of where ever they are, she is willing to travel just to meet them and to hear their story.
This article is part of 8Bit/Digi coverage of Silicon Valley Comic Con 2018. If you attended the event, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Disclaimer: Silicon Valley Comic Con provided 8Bit/Digi with press passes for the weekend.