Nichelle Nichols on meeting Martin Luther King jr.
"I said "I’m going to leave Star Trek because (I was going to say ‘because I have an offer to star in) …I never got that far”
He said "You cannot - you cannot"
and I felt like that little boy Willis "What you talkin’ about dr. king"
(laughs) "But you know I didn’t say that"
"But I was taken aback, and I didn’t say anything, I just looked at him"
He said "Don’t you know understand what this man [Gene] has achieved?"
"I just looked at him" and he said “For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day – as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing, dance, but who can also go into space, who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors - who ARE on this day, and yet you don’t see it on television – until now…”
"and he went on and I could say nothing, I just stood there, realizing every word that he was saying was the truth"
"and he said, "Gene Roddenberry has opened a door for the world to see us. If you leave that door can be closed. You see your role is not a black role, and it’s not a female role, he can fill it with anything - including an alien"
"And in that moment the world tilted for me, and I knew then, that I was something else, that the world was not the same. That’s all I could think of, what dr. king said ‘the world sees us as we should be seen’ "and i remember being angry come sunday. "Why me? Why should I have to?…
"Whatever happened come monday morning I went to Gene, and I’m not sure to this day what I was going to say. He’s sitting behind that same dang desk and he had whoever he was talking to leave because I went there first. And I said "Gene, and I told him what happened" and I told him "If you still want me to stay, I’ll stay - I have to" and he opened his drawer and said "God bless dr. martin luther king, somebody knows where I’m coming from" and he took out my resignation — that was torn into a hundred pieces and handed me the pile, and we just stood there looking at each other, and I finally said "Thank you, Gene, and he said "Thank you, Nichelle"
"And my life’s never been the same since, I’ve never looked back, I’ve never regretted it. Because I understood the universe had somehow put me there, and we have choices - are we gonna walk down this road? are we gonna walk the other..and it was the right road for me"