Biden honors Nichelle Nichols, a trailblazer who ‘redefined what is possible’

A woman wearing green hoop earrings in front of a control panel
Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura in the second season of “Star Trek.”
(CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images)

President Biden celebrated the “inspiring” life of Nichelle Nichols in a poignant statement Sunday after the beloved “Star Trek” actor died at age 89.

“In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women,” the statement read.

“A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.”


Nichols died of heart failure Saturday night at a hospital in Silver City, N.M.

July 31, 2022

The president was among many prominent figures who paid tribute this weekend to the small-screen icon, who broke barriers with her seminal performance as Lt. Uhura — communications officer of the Starship Enterprise — in the original “Star Trek” TV series.

“During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek,” Biden continued in his eulogy.

“With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.”

George Takei, William Shatner, Zoe Saldana and other members of the ‘Star Trek’ family mourned Nichelle Nichols, the series’ original Lt. Uhura.

Aug. 1, 2022

Also among those who honored Nichols on Sunday were NASA, “Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter and several members of the “Star Trek” family — including the original Sulu (George Takei) and Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Lt. Uhura in the Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”


“Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols,” Biden said, “who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.”