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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
July 31, 2022

Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in 'Star Trek' franchise, dies at 89

Nichelle Nichols, an actress whose role as the communications chief Uhura in the original “Star Trek” franchise in the 1960s helped break ground on TV by showing a Black woman in a position of authority and who shared with co-star William Shatner one of the first interracial kisses on American prime-time television, died July 30 at 89.

Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced the death on Facebook. Her former agent Zachery McGinnis also confirmed the death but did not have further details. Ms. Nichols had a stroke in 2015.

Ms. Nichols, a statuesque dancer and nightclub chanteuse, had a few acting credits when she was cast in “Star Trek.” She said she viewed the TV series as a “nice steppingstone” to Broadway stardom, hardly anticipating that a low-tech science-fiction show would become a cultural touchstone and bring her enduring recognition.

“Star Trek” was barrier-breaking in many ways. While other network programs of the era offered domestic witches and talking horses, “Star Trek” delivered allegorical tales about violence, prejudice and war — the roiling social issues of the era — in the guise of a 23rd-century intergalactic adventure. The show featured Black and Asian cast members in supporting but nonetheless visible, non-stereotypical roles.

Ms. Nichols worked with series creator Gene Roddenberry, her onetime lover, to imbue Uhura with authority — a striking departure for a Black TV actress when “Star Trek” debuted on NBC in 1966. Actress Whoopi Goldberg often said that when she saw “Star Trek” as an adolescent, she screamed to her family, “Come quick, come quick. There’s a Black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”


July 24, 2022

'US democracy will not survive for long': how January 6 hearings plot a roadmap to autocracy

To those who track anti-democratic movements there is a chilling familiarity to this rich evocation of a president descending into an abyss of fantasy, fury and possible illegality. “The picture that the hearings depict is of a coup leader,” said the Harvard political scientist Steven Levitsky. “This is a guy who was unwilling to accept defeat and was prepared to use virtually any means to try to stay illegally in power.”

Levitsky is co-author of the influential book How Democracies Die which traces the collapse of once-proud democratic nations – in some cases through wrenching upheavals, but more often in modern times through a tip-toeing into authoritarianism. Levitsky is also an authority on Latin America, a region from which he draws a compelling parallel.

Levitsky told the Guardian that the Trump who emerges from the hearings was a coup leader, “but not a very sophisticated one. Not a very experienced one. A petty autocrat. A type of leader more familiar to someone like me, a student of Latin American politics.”

If Trump’s Latin American-style authoritarianism rang out from the hearings for scholars like Levitsky, a more vexed question is whether it similarly pierced the consciences of the wider American people. It is in their hands that the fate of the January 6 committee’s prime objective now rests: ensuring that a head-on assault on US democracy never happens again.


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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
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Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 01:53 PM
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About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

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