I just finished reading Nichelle Nichol’s autobiography, Beyond Uhura.
I did this while looking up quotes for an independent art project. After not being able to find nearly the breadth of quotes online that I would expect from someone so ground breaking, I got myself a copy of her book to read through and comb for a good one. I found far more than one!
Here are some quotes that I’m honestly shocked and appalled aren’t plastered all over the internet. She is clearly an amazing, brilliant, and complex woman who is a Queen and should be treated as one.
“One of the most insidiously cruel aspects of racism is how it poisons not only those who practice it, but its victims as well.”
"I never accepted the prevailing notion that girls were supposed to stay close to home and learn to cook and clean. It was so unfair, it made me furious. I knew I belonged out there kicking ass with my older brothers, Sammy and Frank.” pg.31
“Learning to know and truly understand my mother would become, for me, the work of a lifetime.” pg.33
“In our house it was understood that whatever occupation you chose was not important: You were.” pg.36
“I want him to know that money and position do not give him the right to violate another human being for any reason. And when a woman says no, she has a right to say no. And that means no!” pg.92
“Having grown up as I did, I could not tolerate racist comments and actions. I’d seen enough to know what people really meant, regardless of how they tried to disguise it. And, as always, actions speak louder than words. Blatant racism is obvious and stupid, but the evil of most racist actions and comments is in their veiled insidiousness." pg.161
”Star Trek did not promise that people would magically become inherently “better,” but that they would progress, always reaching for their highest potential and noblest goals, even if it took centuries of taking two steps forward and one step back. Ideally, humankind would be guided in its quest by reason and justice. The ultimate futility of armed conflict, terrorism, dictatorial rule, prejudice, disregard for the environment, and exercising power for its own sake was demonstrated time and again. Even our most humorous episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” illustrated the risks of removing a species from its natural habitat.“ pg.199
"I believe that we all have the power to change our world. And I believe Star Trek offered viewers a valuable sense of mission. Man can change if he wants to, Gene believed.” pg.200
“What too many people don’t fully realize is how much we benefit from the space program without ever leaving the planet. We get a lot more out of the space program than just Tang and a collection of moon rocks. Every day we avail ourselves of space technology developments, from microwave ovens and the ubiquitous Velcro to cardiac pacemakers and fetal-monitoring instruments. The miniaturization of electronic components, the technology behind everything from watches to automobile-dashboard instruments, also enables weather satellites to forecast potentially devastating natural phenomena. Wind machines for generating electricity, solar panels for heating and cooling homes, precious oil and mineral deposits located from satellites like Landsat, life-saving protective uniforms for firemen, medical instrumentation of all kinds, Mylar and other plastics we take for granted - I could go on and on.” pg.218
“It’s never too early to nurture a child’s natural wonder and curiosity.” pg.231
“I encourage young people to believe in their dreams and to pursue them wholeheartedly. Children come to us ready to learn and eager to achieve. We owe it to them and to ourselves to feed their hunger for knowledge and to spur their sense of adventure, to stand behind them even as they venture to places we ourselves may never go, and if it means going where no being has gone before, all the better.
It’s not that difficult to spark the imaginations of young minds, to plant the seeds of their dreams. What is difficult is ensuring that our space program is consistently and adequately funded so those dreams can come true. The national space program should be reclassified as an entitlement program, and its fate - our children’s future in space - wrested from the hands of politicians, whose short-sighted, politically expedient budget cuts threaten its very existence. This is an obligation we must meet if our children are to continue on the journey humankind began with its first footstep.” pg.231-232
“For everything we do to make it otherwise, life is never a simple journey. We think we’re plotting a course from point A to point B, when in fact practically every step we take is a detour, a digression, a side trip.” pg.298
“I believe that, rather than moving in a circle and returning to the same starting point again and again, we travel the course of an infinite spiral akin to our basic physical structure - the helix of the DNA molecule. When we return to a starting point, we are at a different level, hopefully a higher one.” pg.313
Personally, I’d like to see more quotes from Nichelle Nichols out there. Ones that don’t focus on her lovely form, or her kisses with Kirk. Ones that show how smart, funny, kind and thoughtful she is.
PS: If anyone can find good quotes about her work with Women in Motion and her speech Space: What’s in it for me? please help, I’m fascinated by that part of her history and would love to learn more.