To Boldly Go: How Nichelle Nichols and Star Trek Helped Advance Civil Rights

HarperCollins. Jan. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063073210.
Gr 1-4–This engaging portrait of Nichols opens with a young Black girl tuning in to watch “Star Trek” with her family, excited to see herself represented on screen: “We burst with pride seeing someone who looked like us standing as an equal to make the future better for everyone. This was important not just to my family but for all Black people, because our reality told a very different story.” From there, the author provides context on the Civil Rights Movement before recounting Nichols’s journey to the screen, her development of Uhura’s character, and her experiences with racism, both in her early life and acting career. Just as Nichols decides to quit the show, an encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads her to reconsider, as he reminds her of the significance of her character. In closing, the narrator reflects on the impact Nichols and Uhura have had on generations of fans, encouraging them to dream about where they envision themselves and to work for a better future. Semmer’s digital illustrations are bold and eye-catching and a perfect complement to the text. Back matter includes an author’s note and additional information on Nichols’s work with NASA to help diversify its astronaut applicant pool.
VERDICT This stirring tribute to a rare actor and the iconic role she played on “Star Trek” should be a welcome addition for all collections.

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