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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Unsuspecting Heroine

Do you have a favorite heroine? There are many to choose from now, thank our lucky stars. From Xena, to Buffy, to Nikita. Some of the best adventures, thrillers, and rescues are coming from “the weaker sex”, proving we’re not that weak after all. Okay, sure, if you want to get technical men and women don’t compete against each other in, say, the Olympics; men are faster, stronger and bigger. But by no means are we “weaker”.

Just look at what women have accomplished over the last century. We’ve been astronauts and engineers, politicians and Prime Ministers, cops and criminals, artists and innovators. We’ve run everything from marathons to megacorps.

But the best heroines change the world without knowing their own power. Such is the story of Nichelle Nichols. Until her debut on the 1960s TV series Star Trek as Lieutenant Uhura black women were ONLY seen as servants on the tube. When Gene Roddenberry created the show he didn’t want a monster-of-the-week kind of entertainment. He wanted to challenge our ideas and broaden our minds. He cast a black woman as the fourth in command of a star ship, thus opening the eyes of women of all colors to the possibilities of what we can do. Even Whoopi Goldberg credits Nichol’s achievement as the inspiration for her own career as a comedian and actress. And her inspiration didn’t stop there:


It’s all I can do to keep from typing “Nichols boldly went where no woman had gone before” but it’s true. And I for one am grateful.