I can track in my own lifetime the evolution of people of color in the media. It was a huge deal for me as a kid to see Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. Mae Jemison, my friend and the first African-American woman in space became a scientist and an astronaut because she saw Nichelle as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek. Star Trek has always been about diversity, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. That’s very much the appeal of Star Trek to me, that and the hopeful nature of the vision. Blacks, women and minorities have always been a part of Star Trek and, over the 30 years Star Trek has been around, that has only grown and increased.
Star Trek is responsible for a lot of firsts. It had the first interracial kiss. I was the first African-American to direct an episode of Star Trek. We’re talking about the ideals that Star Trek embodies being reflected in the society in which it was created. It’s equally as important that young women see Kate Mulgrew as the captain of the Voyager as it is for young black children to see Avery Brooks as the captain of Deep Space Nine, as it was to see Nichelle on Star Trek or me on The Next Generation. I’m happy to be part of that, to be a part of something like Star Trek, that may make as big a difference in other people’s lives as it has made in mine.“
LeVar Burton in Starlog, May 1997