1. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting.
2. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series , as well as the succeeding motion pictures, where her character was eventually promoted in Starfleet to the rank of commander.
3. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. asked her to remain when she considered leaving the series.
4. Grace Dell Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, near Chicago, to Samuel Earl Nichols, a factory worker who was both the town mayor of Robbins and its chief magistrate, and his wife, Lishia Nichols. Later, the family moved into an apartment in Chicago.
5. She studied in Chicago as well as New York and Los Angeles.
6. In January 1967, Nichols also was featured on the cover of Ebony magazine, and had two feature articles in the publication in five years.
7. Nichols toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands. On the West Coast, she appeared in The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, For My People, and garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play Blues for Mister Charlie.
8. On Star Trek, Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant; her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented.
9. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the show, as she wanted to pursue a Broadway career; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed her mind.
10. She has said that King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of Star Trek.
11. He said she “could not give up” because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see blacks appearing as equals. In an interview she said that the day after she told Roddenberry she planned to leave the show, she was at a fund-raiser at the NAACP and was told there was a big fan who wanted to meet her.
12. I looked across the room, and there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with this big grin on his face.
13. He said that Star Trek was the only show that he, and his wife Coretta, would allow their three little children to stay up and watch.