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It Was a Civil Rights Pioneer«»It’s no secret that miscegenation (interracial marriage) was kind of a big deal in the United States until very recently - as in, it was totally illegal for people of different races to marry until 1967. That's why it's so shocking to learn that just one year after the Supreme Court decision, the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" featured the first ever interracial kiss on scripted TV in the US. It was so controversial, even on the set, that they had to shoot it twice - once where William Shatner (Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) kissed, and once where they didn't. But Shatner intentionally ruined the shot where they didn’t kiss, forcing the studio to use the other one.
So what, right? It's not like the Star Trek cast was standing with the national guard outside Little Rock High School.
But then again, consider that this was the last great step forward for interracial relationships in media. After that episode aired and the planet wasn’t immediately consumed by whatever apocalypse the detractors assumed would consume it, the cabal of ancient immortals that run network TV figured "okay, so we can have white dudes boning black chicks - but that's it." Forty five years later, and it's okay to have, say, Bob Thorton sleep with Halley Berry, but studio executives still think the country is terrified of black men and white women getting "intimate."
Keep in mind, Uhura wasn’t a one-off character - she was a major part of the cast and a ranking officer in Star Fleet. So, not only did Star Trek take a big step forward, but it’s still probably one the biggest steps any show or film has taken since.
There's also the little fact that Nichelle Nichols considered quitting the show at one point, because being the only black actor on a huge show in the 1960s totally sucked. She decided to stay when Martin Luther King, Jr., a man you don't exactly say "no" to, personally asked her to stay on the show, because she was such a good role model for young black girls - including Whoopi Goldberg, who cited Nichelle as her inspiration to get into acting.l< << PREV 1 of 7 NEXT >>
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