Nichelle Nichols; Vin Scully

the voice

Nichelle NicholsBarrier-breaking Nichelle Nichols inspired the naming of her Star Trek character. “When [she] came to audition…, she was carrying the book she was reading. Uhuru is a 1962 novel by Robert Ruark about the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya, and Roddenberry noticing, a 20-minute conversation ensued… [Gene] Roddenberry was inspired to read the novel and decided to name the communications officer after the title.”

Famously, she got work advice from Martin Luther King, Jr. “He told me that Star Trek was one of the only shows that his wife Coretta and he would allow their little children to stay up and watch. I thanked him, and I told him I was leaving the show. All the smile came off his face, and he said, ‘You can’t do that. Don’t you understand, for the first time, we’re seen as we should be seen? You don’t have a Black role. You have an equal role.'” And, of course, she stayed on the series and for several movies.

It only occurred to me later that one of the reasons my father was drawn to Star Trek was that she was one of the few black people on network television, along with Greg Morris as electronics expert Barney Collier on Mission: Impossible and very few others.

NASA recruiter

People magazine: “Last December, the star made her final convention appearance before her many fans as part of a three-day farewell celebration at L.A. Comic-Con. Nichols was seen waving, blowing kisses, and flashing Star Trek’s famous Vulcan salute to the many fans… She was surrounded by members of her family and longtime friends, including… former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who joined NASA as a result of Nichols’ role in recruiting women and minorities into the space program in the 1970s and 1980s [thanks to] her Star Trek fame.”

Her impact is seen in the many tributes: George Takei (Sulu) wrote: “My heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

Also paying homage: Zoe Saldana (Uhura in the 2009 movie) and Celia Rose Gooding (Uhura in the Paramount+ series). Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan on ST: TNG) said, “Nichelle was the first Black person I’d ever seen who made it to the future.” Nichelle Nichols was 89.

Iconic broadcaster

Vin ScullyIn baseball announcing, Vin Scully was the Greatest Of All Time. The Los Angeles Times touted his “folksy manner and melodic language.”

He covered the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years until 2016, from “the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson” to “Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.” He also covered golf, tennis, and the NFL. “In 2010, the American Sportscasters Association named him the greatest sportscaster of the 20th century.”

Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982; here’s a Scully bobblehead. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2016.

The Los Angeles Times declared: “For legions of Dodgers fans, Vin Scully was the voice of their beloved baseball team. But for many Angelenos, the ginger-haired broadcaster was more like a family member: a grandfather, a tío, someone they welcomed into their homes on game day.

“Heartbroken fans mourning Scully’s passing… at age 94 say it felt like a death in the family.

“‘It almost felt like I lost my father again,’ said Desiree Jackson, who took the bus from skid row to Dodger Stadium to lay flowers and pray at the makeshift memorial that sprang up there overnight. ‘I fell in love with sports because of my dad, and my brother, and Vin.'”

Here is Mark Evanier on his father’s love of the Dodgers and Scully. An emotional Ken Levine wrote: “No one besides my father has had as much impact on my life as Vin Scully,” and was thrilled to have worked with him.

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