Nichelle Nichols was convinced by Martin Luther King Jr. to continue acting on Star Trek, in hopes that her role on the show would advance racial equality.

And he was right. Nichelle first portrayed Lieutenant Uhura in 1964, and by 1969, she was working with NASA to recruit women and people of color into the program—including Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman to go to space. It goes to show that representation matters! In another momentous step forward for diversity and visibility, Nichelle Nichols was one half of the first interracial kiss on television, which she shared with William Shatner.