Entertainment pioneer and Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols promoted the involvement of women and people of color in STEM fields.
Now, fellow Star Trek actress Sonequa Martin-Green is working to carry on her legacy.
Sonequa Martin-Green cried as she prepared to speak about Nichols, who she called “a hero in every way.”
Nichols passed away this summer at the age of 89. She paved the path for numerous other Black actresses by becoming one of the first to play a lead role in a television series. But Martin-Green has a strong bond with Nichols. Without Nichols' prior performance, Martin-portrayal Green's of Michael Burnham, the first Black female captain in Star Trek history, could not have been feasible.
Between Nichols and Martin-Green, there are many similarities, from their iconic Star Trek roles to their support for women and girls in STEM fields.
She was inspired by Nichols both as an actor and as a supporter of women and girls, particularly in STEM professions (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
After Star Trek, Nichols devoted her time to encouraging women and people of color to apply to NASA as astronauts.
Years later, Martin-Green is still working to support girls and women in STEM. She has joined forces with Million Girls Moonshot, a group whose mission is to increase the number of girls participating in STEM-related learning opportunities and initiatives by 1 million. To support the program's goals and send girls to Space Camp, Frito-Lay has donated $100,000.
Martin-Green pleasantly delighted 16 girls, the first group the organization is sending to Space Camp, by giving them ceremonial stars with their names on them. She remarked, "I was so eager for them to see my face and see my love and support for them. "I sincerely hope that they will always remember this as a memorable event. I'm hoping it starts them down the right path."
Only 10% of women work in STEM fields today, with the percentages being particularly low for Black, Latina, and Indigenous women. Therefore, I leaped at the chance to do this because we need more of us out there.
Programs like this one, which target recruiting female candidates, according to Martin-Green, wouldn't be possible without Nichols. "Actually, she is to blame for everything. She was instrumental in integrating NASA back then, "At the memory of Nichols, she sobbed as she spoke.
"She is the one who remarked, "Wait a minute, I don't see what I need to be seeing." I don't see equality here. And from 1977 to 2015, she devoted the remainder of her life to building these initiatives in NASA "Martin-Green remarked. "And now that we are where we are, these girls can have this experience. And I'm honored to be a part of it."
Martin-Green now wants to carry on Nichols' legacy both on and off the screen. "If I've influenced you in any way, all I ask is that you carry on this heritage, she reportedly stated when she was still alive. Of course, now all of us who were motivated by her. And I'm hoping that these girls will be able to do the same."