TrekMovie.com Celebrates Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a day when Americans celebrate the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And today TrekMovie takes a look at how the man and his message impacted the world of Star Trek.

 

MLK helps Uhura
The most direct connection of Dr. Martin Luther King to Star Trek, comes in a story often told by Nichelle Nichols, about how he helped convince her to stay on The Original Series, due to how important it was that she be there. See video of her telling the story at the Star Trek 30th Anniversary special in 1996.

MLK and IDIC
Dr. King was never referenced directly on a Star Trek episode, although there was an image from the civil rights movement that appeared in the ‘restored’ timeline at the end of the Temporal Cold War in the Enterprise episode "Storm Front, Part 2." Regardless, the philosophy of IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations) flows through the over four decades of Star Trek.


Timeline restored – along with Civil Rights movement in "Cold Front, Part 2"

The issues of civil rights and racism were confronted head on, starting back with The Original Series, which began during the civil rights era. As noted by Nichelle Nichols, the casting of the show itself embodied Dr. King’s message of equality. In addition to the main cast, people of color were regularly cast in guest roles, often in positions of respect or authority. Issues of race and equality were regular themes in Star Trek and  The Original Series is also cited for breaking ground for having the TV’s first interracial kiss, in the episode "Plato’s Stepchildren." The episode that most overtly took on the subject was "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" which showed the futility of fighting over race.


Scene mocking racism in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

Messages of equality and the struggle for civil rights continued in future incarnations of Trek both in storylines and in casting. Later shows brought in an African American (Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko in DS9) and a woman (Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway in Voyager) as Star Trek captains. Many episodes in the post TOS years confronted the issues of racism and equality, such as DS9’s "Far Beyond the Stars" to Enterprise’s "Stigma." Trek even tackled the notion of ‘sentient rights’ for androids and holograms in TNG’s "Measure of a Man" and Voyager’s "Author, Author."


Trek tackles what makes a man in "Measure of a Man"

This week the United States will be inaugurating not only its first Trekkie president, but its first African-American president, Barack Obama, who once said "I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier." Perhaps President-elect Obama was one of those children of the 60s that Dr. King spoke to Nichelle about — one of those kids who saw in Star Trek a future that was truly the fulfillment of his dream that one day people would be judged "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Marcio Henrique - Uberlandia-MG-BRAZIL

Great man, great message to the world! First !

It looks like his dream is becoming reality. I look back on how the world has changed from the time I was a child to today and see great changes but also see that we still as a species still have a lot of work to do.

Great choice of clips! Nichelle Nichols recap of her encounter with Dr. King is just wonderful.

The Bele clip is from the unremastered episode, though! ;-)

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire

Well. Dr. King was a Trekkie and that was so kool. he was a great man who Simply had a Dream and that dream will be fullfield Tommorow as we will have not only a new presedent but a Black Presedent. This Country has come a long way and it looks as thogh Genes vision as well is getting closer. May presedent Elect Obama Live Long and Prosper and may Gene Roddenberrys Vision and Dr. Kings Dream come True.

I always get chills during Picard’s summation in “The Measure of a Man.”

I love Nichelle’s story of her talk with MLK. He knew it was important to our culture to keep her on the bridge of the Enterprise, and that shows what a visionary he truly was. Somehow I think he knows today that Obama is poised to become our first African-American president.

Dr. King had a dream, and it’s great to see that dream coming true in such a fantastic fashion.
Some people hate them, but I always loved the episodes where Star Trek tried to make an important point such as tackling racisim.
Let’s hope that President-Elect Obama really does live up to his promise of change. And lets hope it’s change for the better. He has a big promise to fufill!

“…Barack Obama, who once said “I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier.”

Finally… one of us in the White House.

;-)

Sorry — had to!

I’ve always admired TOS for taking up controversial issues such as racism. After all, equality was and still is science fiction.

MLK was and will always be such a model role and guide for all people; and the fact that he had such a strong connection with TOS and believed in its significance is just fantastic.

All the best for Obama’s presidency!

#8 – Yeah, well we’ll see if he puts up, or shuts DOWN our hopes in space.

Happy MLK day.
IDIC.

There’s been “one of us” in the White House since the founding of this nation, Obama will be no different. Are people happy because a skin color will be President tomorrow? If so, they miss entirely the point of Rev. King’s hopes and dreams. Is it the man or the skin?

Finally a non-remastered clip of TOS (as it should be)! :-) Happy Martin Luther King Day!

As an African American, I still see that we have a long long way to go but this is a fantastic continuation of our fight, struggles, advances and definitely our successes so I shall remain on the positive.

There are no words to describe my love for MLK so I shall not try, but traveling the world as often as I do brings about a new hope that previous administrations could not come close to visualizing for the population of this planet.

STAR TREK tried and in some part showed us that discrimination amongst any race of people never brings about acheivement but failure for those who choose to exercise it. MLK sought nonviolent communication only to be met by violent consequences but his torch was taken up by many including those who frequent this board.

I can only hope that before I die, we have had yet another President of color in this country and that Gene’s dream of infinite diversity in infinite combinations can executed withour regret.

MLK/Obama/Nichelle/Levar Burton/Michael Dorn/Avery Brooks/Cirroc Lofton/George Takei/Anthony Montgomery/Linda Parks/Whoopie Goldberg/Garrett Wang/Tim Russ and all those members representing peace and tranquilty in a world of constant turmoil, I salute you.

Marc B. Lee

If Obama believes in the final frontier, let’s see what he does with NASA in the months and years ahead.

=A=

I think Brodie has a point, that Dr. King’s dream wasn’t that a black man get a position of authority, but that it wouldn’t matter at all what the man (or woman) looked like. The true measure of a man is still what’s inside, and a lot of people (especially those in the affirmative action movement) keep focusing on the wrong thing. I don’t care that Obama is black. I don’t care that he’s of mixed parentage. I don’t care that he’s a TREK fan. I care what his character will do to influence his decisions that will affect this country.

That has yet to be measured. I truly hope he’ll do what’s best for the country, but let’s stay realistic and wait for results. Dr. King wouldn’t blindly follow anyone. And I don’t think he’d want anyone else to, either.

#5

Me too buddy! His conversation with Guinan is chilling as well.

“Consider that in the history of many worlds there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do, because it’s too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable? You don’t have to think about their welfare; you don’t think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people.”

“You’re talking about slavery.”

“I think that’s a little harsh.”

“I don’t think that’s a little harsh, I think that’s the truth. But that’s a truth that we have obscured behind a… comfortable, easy euphemism. ‘Property.’ But that’s not the issue at all, is it?”

#10, 14

Personally, I think we have much bigger problems to deal with before we get around to NASA.

#17—Definitely.

A war on two fronts, an economy headed in the wrong direction, crisis in the rising costs of healthcare, a lack of available funds for business and mortage loans at affordable rates, etc.

I would say that NASA is, unfortunately, pretty far down the priority list.

The only thing which can drive NASA back into the forefront is fear of the Chinese, and a plan to convince the President and Congress that NASA can become a realistic driving force for the creation of a significant number of jobs. Easier said than done.

NASA would do well to sell itself more as a deserving beneficiary of some the nation’s defense budget, IMO.

16 – Measure of a Man is a fantastic allegory for how Slavery was thought of at the time.

That kind of bigotry and evil shames all who ever supported, condoned or enforced.

We have come so far as a civilisation since then. We have the first black President being sworn in tomorrow, and his “race” was never an issue for most americans at the voting booth.

To those who think we have a long long way to go, I don’t believe we have as far to go as many think.

Racism is now rightly seen as the antisocial point of view of whackjobs such as the Ayrian Brotherhood, rather than the majority opinion that persisted until the 50s and early 60s.

We’re not perfect, but we are very close.

#17, #19. Amen!

#20. You know, you make a good point. I’m not a person of color, so I can’t put myself in any African-American’s shoes. And I would never suggest that we the people are “colorblind” or “post-racial.”

But I look at how my kids view the world, and I am amazed & grateful at how far we’ve come since my own childhood. To them race is no big deal. They have friends of every skin color, which they regard as just another physical characteristic — like eye or hair color. They notice it, but it isn’t loaded; it doesn’t mean anything other than what it is.

By and large, this generation truly does judge others not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. . . ”

That, to me, is the big wow.

He (Picard) could have even gone a step further and pointed a phaser at Data, and when he recoiled it would have been proof of the ego present in him, the self-preservation mechanism present in most if not all living, conscious organisms.

Tomorrow will indeed be a most significant day in history. I hope it will not be lost on the younger generation. Incredibly, a couple of the kids I spoke with don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, perhaps a bit of both.

Let’s not forget that Dr. King also supported economic equality. His dream was about more than race and is only partly fulfilled. We still have a long way to go toward achieving an MLK model of society. God bless him and his vision!

#8 and #11:
I believe one of us is referring to a “Trekkie” given the quote above.
However, the “one of us” in the White House is easy to see as a white American. A color blind society is a goal and we ain’t there yet. Hopefully this is a step and King’s ideas of the “content of our character” will be fully realized, but that isn’t today. Until then, yes it does matter, that an African-American man will be president. Like it or not the road to color blindness is through color consciousness. You can’t shut off a few hundred years of history like it were a light switch.

BTW, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” was brilliant and a perfect example of where Trek’s low budget sci-fi actually made the plot stronger. The ridiculous makeup was a perfect allegory for the ridiculous concept of race. Kirk’s blindness to the “difference” and the aliens adamance of its self-evidence and relevance were well played. Aliens more subtly made up would not have made the point nearly so well. So, props to TOS’s grease paint and plaster of paris!

The kind of human society depicted by Trek, without which Starfleet or even space travel would not be conceivable, is the kind of society King labored for and dreamed of, especially in the last few years of his life. King knew that true freedom and true prosperity require more than the enforcement of civil rights laws. They require peace and social and economic justice. Roddenberry’s vision of that future Earth is much in keeping with King’s vision.

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire

#13. You forgot Don Marshall who was on the Tos Episode The Gallieo 7. he did a great job of acting and being black on a 60s Show yet he was a great Figure of a leader. This Country has Come a long way. It may take a bit more time but with presedent Elect Obama being Sworn in on Tuesday i think things will realy get better even faster.So once again i Say to Presdent Elect Obama. LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.

Capt Mike Of The Terran Empire

I kinda Wonder if Dr. King and Gene Roddenberry ever met. Does Anyone out there know. Hey Anthony Can you do some checking for us and let us know.

From what I understand, Nichelle Nichols’ MLK story has grown in the telling over the years. It started as her imagining a conversation with Dr. King when telling the story at conventions. Then it turned into a phone call. Ultimately, it became a chance encounter with him in person.

Still a neat story, though.

#11 and #15, you completely missed the point.

“One of us in the White House” meant a Trekkie.

Presumably anyone who reads this site is a Trekkie. The quote was Obama growing up on Star Trek. He’s one of us.

Let go of your hate. The straw man won’t hurt you.

No mention of Benny Russel?

Happy Birthday Rev. Dr. King!!! You were a great man, and we owe much to your sacrifice. We will keep the dream alive!!

But we are still a country where people are still not treated equally, simply because of who they are and who they choose to love.

The struggle continues for gay rights, women’s rights, animal rights; environmental, social and economic justice…

Thank God Almighty!! that your dream lives on in our Trekker President, Barack Obama!

#27 Really? From the start I seem to remember the story being a brief but in in-the-flesh chat with him in which he urged her not to quit.

First of all IDIC is a fraud- only limited diversity and limited combinations will ever be tolerated. The only things that will ever change is what is tolerable now will be intolerable tomorrow; what was intolerable yesterday is now tolerable. Nothing has equal acceptance, now will it ever be.

Second, Uhura is more of an embodiment of King’s ideals than Barak Obama. The bridge of the Enterprise had achieved the utopian color blindedness… however, Obama is all about skin color. As long as he keeps making race an issue- as long as he keeps making skin color an issue- as long as we keep regarding this election as historic- as long as we keep saying “America’s first black President”- then we prove that we have not yet achieved Kings goals.

Ironic- that those in our society who grants King near sainthood status- these same people still look at skin color over content of character, which is what their own revered King desired to eliminate.

#21—“Tomorrow will indeed be a most significant day in history. I hope it will not be lost on the younger generation. Incredibly, a couple of the kids I spoke with don’t see what the big deal is. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, perhaps a bit of both.”

I think it is a bigger victory over some of the social ills which have plagued this nation if it isn’t a big deal at all to them. The perception that skin color makes any difference whatsoever is not a natural instinct, but something which is taught. The more kids around who do not find it significant speaks well of the prior generation too.

It will only completely go away when people stop talking about it. I hope that he isn’t referred to as a “black” or “African-American” President for his entire term of office. That would be sad.

I just hope he stops the spending. The colors to really worry about are those pricey, interest bearing, green (not) federal reserve notes.

There’s also the Goldberg story that she saw Nichols on TV and called her mom to see that “there’s a black woman on TV and she’s not a maid!”. Excellent story.

I hope he stops the spending on WAR!

Peace and Long Life

32. REDBELLPEPPERS

EVERYTHING you stated is wrong, assuming, pessimistic, divisive and just flat-out incorrect, to the extent of being racist.

20 – Most people are like those children today. Race is not an issue to me, or most people I’ve encountered.

This is a very good thing.

OK lets not get into another heated political debate here ok

Nice to see that Dr. King’s dream is slowly but surely becoming a reality, and that Mr. Roddenberry’s vision is also helping it along the way.

Let’s hope that Trek in May ’09 boosts even greater optimism in our potential, our spirit and our future.

Happy MLK day everyone, and happy inauguration day tomorrow.

#37—I thought that the post in #32 might be a bit cynical, but certainly not the way you characterize it.

In fact, I also expressed hope that the media (and everyone else) will soon desist from constantly referring to him as a “black” or “African-American” President. If anything has the potential to become divisive, it’s probably that constant distinction.

Back in November, the people of the United States elected a man to the Presidency who happens to be the first non-anglo/caucasian to be so honored. That was where the significance was.

Tommorow, we have a new President—the color of his skin needs to stop being an issue before America can begin to move on.

Uhura was never “the black communications officer”. She was the communications officer.

Obama will be our new President. The longer he is referred to as a “black” President, the longer a disservice is being done to him, IMO.

Obama’s race should not be an issue? OBVIOUSLY NOT

Not to acknowledge his historical significance? RIDICULOUS

#17, #18 – If you think you have to fix everything else before we really go into space, we will never get there. For this world to grow, it has to be focused on the next horizon, the next goal, the next frontier. We must move forward, or we will fall backward. We must do it while we are fixing everything else, in fact, the pursuit of space will help us with find ways to resolve our problems here. We will figure out the technology, the power, and the way for different people to work together. Now, even more than ever, we need to go to space.

41 – Wise commentary and perspective.

I know as a biracial woman, this past election season really lifted my spirit — a woman and a biracial man running for the Dem ticket, then a woman VP contender. I hoped but really did not think I’d see in my lifetime. It’s one of the things I so enjoyed in Star Trek vision of the future — race and gender don’t matter.

A Trekkie President… so cool.

Full agreement with #42

(Speaking as an American, black, female, traditional undergrad…) This 44th presidency is significant in the context of the American narrative. Even if ‘race’ is not a ‘big deal’ that affects everyday interactions for many people my age, they should still be able to appreciate a milestone like this objectively.

They should be able to empathize with the experiences of others.There are a significant number of people alive today who never thought they’d see a black person become President, like my grandmother, who was raised in Alabama by her formerly enslaved grandmother. They should be interacting with people of other generations.

Simply put: if you don’t care, if it’s not a big deal to you, you don’t know enough. Read about it a bit more or talk to some older Americans. Many things beyond your own personal experience are still important.

@47: Well said. I encounter ignorance and indifference everyday and it still shock and awes me. Those who refuse to remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Yes, this is probably THE biggest problem with America (U.S.of): Too many of us can not or will not EMPATHIZE.

Yes, we need to educate and inform ourselves too; then the fear will disappear.

That would be “Storm Front Part II”; not “Cold Front Part II”.

wpDiscuz