It goes something like this:
I'd read each subsequent rewrite...and there was a... consistent pattern being formed. You know, I'd see the first draft, the white pages, and see what Uhura had to do this week, and maybe it was a halfway-decent scene or two, sometimes more, and then invariably the next draft would come in on blue pages and I'd find that Uhura's presence in the show had been cut way down. Teh pink pages came next and she'd suffer some more cuts, then the yellow, more cuts, and it finally got to the point where I had really had it. I mean I just decided that I don't even need to read the FUCKING SCRIPT! I mean, I know how to say "Hailing frequencies open," and Uhura's participation in the final version of any given script was rarely more taxing than that... I went to Gene and complained.
"Why is this happening?" I ask him. And Gene does his best to explain his point of view, and he's talking about staying true to the show, but my now I'm really angry and it actually gets to the point where I say to him, "That's it. I quit. I'm leaving."
And Gene looks at me across the desk and says, "Don't do this."
"I have to," I tell him.
[That evening, at an NAACP function] I'm sitting at my table and I was chatting and saying hello to people when all of a sudden a man comes up to me and says, "Miss Nichols, I'm sorry to bother you, but there's someone over here who would really like to meet you, and I said, "Well...uh, I guess that's okay," at which point he leads me up to a table that's surrounded by a lot of people, and he says to me, "I must tell you, the man that wants to meet you is a big fan, a really great fan."
And now I'm thinking to myslef, "Well, that's nice," and suddely the man that's let me through the crowd sort of squeezes in through the people around the table, and the next thing I know, the crowd sort of parts down the middle, and sitting there smiling at me is Dr. Martin Luther King.
So now I'm immediately thrilled. I mean, Dr. King is a fan? of MINE? And we exchanged greetings, and he told me how much he enjoyed Star Trek, and about how happy he was that I was part of the cast.
The rest was history. Dr. King convinced Nichelle to remain on the show and not only did it make her career, her presence on the bridge of the Enterprise influenced the lives of millions - both African-American and women - who saw her leadership role on that ship as a symbol of hope for themselves.
I don't know if Barack Obama is a Trekkie, but you can bet he's had influences. And you can bet some of them are Trekkies. Even if he's never seen a single episode (which would be a crying shame, and not just because David Wu thinks there are Klingons in the White house) we can still see his election as a part of that same legacy of hope - and this time it's not even an actor on a starship 300 years in the future.
Last Tuesday we brought Star Trek into the here and now.