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The Devastating Death Of Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols, best known for playing Nyota Uhura in "Star Trek: The Original Series," has died at the age of 89, according to Variety. According to PR Newswire, her son, Kyle Johnson, worked as her full-time caregiver over these last few years. Nichols had married twice previously — to Foster Johnson for a few months in 1951 and Duke Mondy from 1968 to 1972. 

Johnson released a statement on Instagram on Sunday morning, reporting the news to Nichols' millions of fans all over the world. Johnson's statement read in part, "I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years." The statement did not confirm the actress's exact cause of death, but stated that she "succumbed to natural causes and passed away." Johnson also asked that his family's privacy be respected during their time of grieving. 

Nichols led an extraordinary life, and her portrayal of Uhura on television broke new ground for Black representation in popular media. She continued acting into her golden years and maintained a massive following of fans, who have taken to remembering her upon hearing the heartbreaking news.

Nichelle Nichols broke boundaries

Grace Dell Nichols was born on December 28, 1932 in a small Chicago suburb. After spending time studying in Chicago, she moved between New York City and Los Angeles, and went on to work as an actor and model. She saw success in various forms, but nothing came close to the level of attention she received as Uhura on "Star Trek," including from civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In an interview with NPR, she recalled a conversation she had with Dr. King when the show was at its zenith: "I said something like, 'Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you.' He said, 'No, no, no. No, you don't understand. We don't need you on the — to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for.'"

Her presence on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise wasn't the only barrier she broke, either. She was also part of one of the first interracial kisses to appear on TV at the time. She elaborated on the trailblazing moment to Great Big Story: "To a young, Black woman in a situation that has never been done on television, I realized how important it was."

She continued to act well into the 21st century, but it was her role as Uhura that continued to inspire generations of moviegoers. In 2021, Paramount+ released the documentary, "Woman in Motion," which focuses on the incredible true story of how Nichols worked with individuals from NASA to recruit more women and people of color into careers in science and mathematics.

Nichelle Nichols didn't just change "Star Trek"; she changed the world, and our thoughts go out to her loved ones in this trying time.