Star Trek 45th Anniversary: Intro to The World of Tomorrow
Starting today, we proudly celebrate the most successful and groundbreaking television franchise of all time. On a weekly basis Star Trek explored racial and political taboos. It gave us moral and ethical dilemmas to ponder. The series inspired technology that no one had ever thought possible at the time. It boldly transported us where no one had ever gone before, particularly in the world of television.
For the next three months we will explore the iconic television series that became even larger than a mere extension of pop culture.
In the 1960’s, television was not the racially diverse landscape that it is today. Star Trek was the first prime time series on network television to feature an ethnically diverse cast. The diversity in casting was quite bold for its time.
The crew of the Starship Enterprise consisted of a Japanese weapons officer with a special interest in fencing named Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), a Russian helmsman (during the Cold War in the United States) named Pavel A. Chekov (Walter Koenig), a Scottish engineer named Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan), and an African American woman named Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) who was a Lieutenant and the communications officer. The three main characters of Star Trek were none other than the pop culture hero Captain James T. Kirk played memorably by William Shatner, the inimitable pointy-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley).
So there you have it, a diverse cast with an alien thrown in to deliver what the human race lacks largely, logic.
The significance to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was that Star Trek’s vision of the future was that there would be entire communities and families aboard these ships that traveled through space. Those communities would be any and all races living together in harmony, as it should be. Roddenberry saw Star Trek as the window into an optimistic future where there was no longer racism, poverty, and war. Mankind had risen to the occasion and evolved to explore its full potential.
The character of Uhura was unique in the fact that she was the first African-American leading lady in a television role who was in a position of command at a time when women on television were still housewives, even if they twitched their noses. The name Uhura was chosen by Roddenberry because it is a Swahili word for freedom. Captain Kirk and Uhura shared television’s first interracial kiss.Continued on the next page