Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hailing Frequencies Open


I am trying to think of how many times Uhura actually says "Hailing Frequencies Open, Captain!" in the original Star Trek show, and wondering if it is another one of those inaccuracies like "Beam me up, Scotty" -- which was never actually spoken verbatim in a single episode! Regardless, it is one of those things Nichelle Nichols hears on the street quite frequently, I'm sure.

Nyota Uhura
I had not planned on any more Trek posts, but in an odd twist of timing, a NASA website for women was unveiled this week by social media champion Nick Skytland, and it made me think of the recent lecture by the lovely Nichelle Nichols at last weekend's sci-fi convention.

Unbeknownst to some, Nichols was a recruiter at NASA for many moons, and to this day makes public appearances for the agency at various space and research centers when her schedule allows.

Cindy & Maggie with Nichelle - Star Trek Convention
Pals Cindy & Maggie with Nichelle Nichols
Star Trek Convention, March 2011

Nichelle was the very first "face of diversity", who brought NASA from the stone age into the space age! Her direct recruits include, among others, the first American woman to travel into space, Sally Ride, and the first African-American in space, Guion Bluford.

Ms. Nichols is an eloquent and classy lady, but she delved into an amusingly scandalous saga at the Star Trek convention when she related a story about how NASA first asked her to recruit women and minorities as astronaut candidates. She wasn't the only one bothered by the Good Ol' Boys Club.

She told them, "If I do this for you, if I take time off from performing, and if I go to all this trouble of recruiting high-caliber men and women of varying races... and we still inexplicably wind up with an all-white, all-male astronaut corps, I will SUE you. I will sue you for my time."

Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle on stage, tellin' it like it is!

Paraphrased, of course, from a conversation that took place in the mid-1970s, but you gotta love her gutsy gusto! What an amazing woman. And how ahead of her time. Since the mid-1980s, Nichols has served on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Also check out her personal web site at UHURA.COM!