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President Biden released a statement late Sunday night about the death of actress Nichelle Nichols.
Nichols died Sunday at the age of 89. She was known for playing Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on all three seasons of the original “Star Trek” show, which ran from 1966-1969. She also starred in the six ‘Star Trek’ films from 1979-1991.
“In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a stage and screen pioneer who redefined what is possible for black Americans and women,” President Biden said in the statement.
He said she came from an “Illinois working-class family” and that she honed her acting and singer skills in Chicago before touring the country with Duke Ellington and “giving life to the words of James Baldwin.”
‘STAR TREK’ ACTRESS NICHELLE NICHOLS DEAD AT 89
“During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first black woman to star on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek,” Biden said. “With defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a pivotal story that reshaped scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by partnering with NASA to empower generations of Americans of all backgrounds to reach the stars and beyond. to reach.”
Biden continued, “Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity and respect are the cornerstones of any society.”
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Nichols’ son Kyle shared the news of her death on Facebook, writing: “I am sorry to inform you that there is no longer a great light for us in the firmament as it has for so many years. Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and died. However, her light, like the ancient galaxies now seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by.”
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He added: “Her life was a life well lived and as such a model for all of us. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we mourn her loss until we can adequately recover to speak further. Her services will be to family members and the best of her friends and we ask that her and our privacy are respected.”
He signed his signature with the signature “Star Trek”, “Live Long and Prosper”.
Commemorative flowers will be placed on her Hollywood Walk of Fame star on Monday, August 1, at 1 p.m. The star was dedicated to Nichols on January 9, 1992.
Nichols had additional health problems in recent years and suffered a minor stroke in 2015. She also reportedly suffered from dementia and was involved in a custody battle.
She earned credit for breaking stereotypes for black actresses, with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. personally encouraged her to stick with the TV series when she had doubts about continuing to work on the program. She met him at a civil rights meeting in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.
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He said, ‘You can’t do that,'” recalls Nichols. “You changed the face of television forever, and that’s why you changed people’s minds,” she told the civil rights leader at a meeting.
During the third season of “Star Trek,” Nichols and another star of the series, William Shatner, who played Captain James Kirk, made TV history when they shared an interracial kiss.
Tracy Wright and Larry Fink of TBEN News contributed to this report.