Sunday, January 31, 2010

The 'true story' of how Dr. King kept Uhura on Star Trek

In celebration of Black History Month I have to reprint this story that brings tears to my eyes every time....

Savas Abadsidis recently interviewed Nichols for Planet Waves and posts what he's calling the "true story" of how that fateful encounter took place, in her own words.

We've pasted Nichols' full comments below.

"I hope you will get the story right this time, because for some reason, no one has ever gotten this story right,(laughs). I, after the first season, because my heart was still on Broadway and the performing arts part of me, the musical performing arts of me was yearning to leave. I never intended to be an actress other than in the theater. So for me, TV and movies, that was something to help me get from here to there. And so it was a shock for me to be cast in Star Trek. A shock and a joy. I was performing in England at the time of the inception of the show and my agent tracked me down in Paris and told me that they were doing a show called Star Trek, assuming that I'd know what that was. Because I'd been in and out of the country for so long.

Now I'd known Gene Roddenberry since he'd given me my first TV starring role in a show that he'd done called the 'The Lieutenant'. And he was one of the first people of that stature that gave me encouragement. He called my agent and said can you find Nichelle, because I need her for a role in this show and wherever she is, get her back here because I want a woman head of a department on the bridge. He changed the role from a man heading communications on the bridge and he wanted a woman of color. He wanted me and I came back and got the role. So the first year went by, and I enjoyed doing the role, to me at that time it was very challenging [laughs] but I played my role to the hilt, being the head of communications and all that and by this time the show had aired and I was starting to get notice and on the side I'm singing at places and people are hearing me and calling and I'm thinking, "Oh this is my big break! I have to leave this little show and go do it! I was thinking Broadway here I come!'


And so I went on a Friday evening shortly before the end of the season to let Gene know that I wouldn't be returning to the show, he looked at me like I was crazy, "YOU CAN'T LEAVE," but he realized how serious I was and he knew I was passionate about singing, and he said, "I know what your dream is and so forth but don't you see what I'm trying to do? He said take the weekend and think about my decision and how important this show is and how it was a first and if I leave, well he didn't know what to say, but he said take the weekend and that way I could take the time to really think about what we just said and come back Monday and we would talk about it and if you really want to leave then, you'll go with my blessings, but realize I want you to know that what we are doing here is really historic. The next night was Saturday and I was due to be a celebrity guest on a dais at an NAACP fundraiser at UCLA.

One of the organizers came up to me and said that there was someone who wants to meet you; and he says that he's you're best, biggest fan and I'm thinking it's a Trekkie! [laughs] and so I said certainly and I got up and turned around and maybe 10 or 15 feet coming towards me I see Dr. Martin Luther King and I remember thinking whoever that little fan is, he's going to have to wait, because here's Dr. King, who walks straight up to me with this big, magnificent smile on his face and says, "I'm the fan!" because I'm sort of looking around for someone else, and he says, "I am your best fan, I am your biggest fan!" and I... I was at a loss for words, and if you know me, I am never at a loss for words.


I just couldn't say a thing and he began to tell me how important my role was, what an inspiration it was. And you have to understand we were in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, people were regularly being attacked by dogs, and marchers were being hosed on the television every night, real life things, and here I am in this futuristic thing on TV and he was so complimentary, he told me "I was so important and the way you have created this role," and I am just looking at him and looking at him and I remember I just kept hoping he'd never stop talking. Because his voice is just... you know the voice. And I finally just start saying, thank you so much Dr. King and I am shaking his hand and still shaking from nervousness and I said thank you so much and I am really going to miss my co-stars.

And at this his face totally changed, and he said "What are you talking about?!" and so I told him I would be leaving the show, because; and that was as far as he let me go, and he said, "STOP! You cannot! You cannot leave this show! Do you not understand what you are doing?! You are the first non-stereotypical role in television! Of intelligence, and of a woman and a woman of color?! That you are playing a role that is not about your color! That this role could be played by anyone? This is not a black role. This is not a female role! A blue eyed blond or a pointed ear green person could take this role!" And I am looking at him and looking at him and buzzing, and he said, "Nichelle, for the first time, not only our little children and people can look on and see themselves, but people who don't look like us, people who don't look like us, from all over the world, for the first time, the first time on television, they can see us, as we should be!
As intelligent, brilliant, people! People in roles other than slick tap dancers, and maids, which are all wonderful in their own ways, but for the first time we have a woman, a WOMAN, who represents us and not in menial jobs, and you PROVE it, this man [Gene Rodenberry] proves and establishes a precedent that validates what we are marching for because three hundred years from today there we are, and there you are, in all our glory and all your glory! And you CANNOT leave!"

And I did not leave.

I went back on Monday and told Gene that if he hadn't replaced me and still wanted me to stay that I would and I told him what Dr. King said, and I'll never forget him sitting behind that big desk that he had and he said, "so that's your decision?" And I said I'd like my letter of resignation back please and I told him what had happened while meeting Dr. King, and I don't know if you know what Gene looked like, but he was a big guy and was like 6'3" with that hawk nose and a great sense of humor and this brilliant mind and a futurist and-whatever great things you heard about him are just a small part of what that man was. I looked down at him sitting behind his desk when I told him the story and I finally shut up, and a huge tear is rolling down his cheek. And he said, "Thank God someone understands what I am trying to achieve." And he reached down into his drawer and pulled out my letter of resignation and handed it to me, it had already been [laughs] torn up."

The 'true story' of how Dr. King kept Uhura on Star Trek

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DLE and the Wise Society Raise More Money

The DLE and the Wise Society Haiti fundraiser raises even more money to help those in great need! Congrats kids on all your hard work!

Donate to the American Red Cross , phone users can text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10," and when prompted, hit "YES" to confirm the donation.

The donation is added to the cell user's bill, and receipts are available.

Other text-message codes for donations include:

  • Text the word "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti foundation.
  • Text the word "HAITI" to 20222 to donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund.
  • Text "HAITI" to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee.
  • Text "HAITI" to 85944 to donate $10 to the International Medical Corps."
from the article Mobile giving to help Haiti exceeds $7 million

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr: A True Servant Leader

As an educator I was touched today by this article from Mr. James Perry candidate for the Mayor of New Orleans:

"Among the most important lessons I've learned from Dr. King is the example of servant leadership. A servant leader is one who offers an inclusive vision; listens carefully to others; persuades through reason; and heals divisions while building community.

It is easy to spot servant leaders. In a room where others are jockeying for attention, they are the ones listening to someone others might consider unimportant. When faced with a problem, they look for solutions that benefit everyone. When something goes wrong, they take the blame. When things go well, they share the credit. They tell everyone the same story, even when it is inconvenient or difficult. They know that they don't have all the answers, so they seek advice from others. They work hard and inspire others to do the same.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of a servant leader. His life shows the extraordinary power of servant leadership to radically transform a nation.

Our communities and our country need servant leadership more than ever. Deepening economic woes threaten the American dream for far too many working people. Racial divisions are embarrassingly persistent in too many aspects of our economic and social lives. Political despair is battering the uniquely American optimism that has made us a great nation.

There are precious few servant leaders in our current political environment. Many elected officials are more interested in personal power, individual legacy, and financial gain than in the sacrifice and commitment that servant leadership requires."

From the Huffington Post

WOW.....does that not say it all?

As an educator, we have the honor to teach the next generation of servant is our job and privilege to instill in them the passion to effect change and the empathy to think outside themselves. All educators....indeed, all school staff....must work together to teach teens that taking responsibility for our lives gives us total power in creating the kind of life we want for ourselves. Yup....taking personal responsibility and thinking of the community.....and you know what? After seeing my Murray Hill Middle School kids last week rally around raising funds for Haiti Relief?...I think we're doing pretty darn good! But we can always do better!

I wish I was more wait! These dudes are!

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”
Albert Einstein

“It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.”

“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
Denis Waitley

from 7 Timeless Thoughts on Taking Responsibility for Your Life

Friday, January 15, 2010

MHMS Helps with Haiti Relief

i would like to commend the hard (and fast!) work of our Distinguished Ladies of Excellence & the Wise Society, lead by Mrs. Abrams and Mr. Williams respectively, organized our students to start a Red Cross fund drive for Haiti Disaster Relief....

here are some more pictures of good works and good people in action!

Our Mrs. Peay says "Help is on the way!"

for all the pictures (non posterized) you can see them on our Smugmug Digital Photo Gallery

How can you help? Text your donation!

"Donate to the American Red Cross , phone users can text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10," and when prompted, hit "YES" to confirm the donation.

The donation is added to the cell user's bill, and receipts are available.

Other text-message codes for donations include:

  • Text the word "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti foundation.
  • Text the word "HAITI" to 20222 to donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund.
  • Text "HAITI" to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee.
  • Text "HAITI" to 85944 to donate $10 to the International Medical Corps."
from the article Mobile giving to help Haiti exceeds $7 million

Dr. J says "Help is on the Way!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Buffy the Filter Slayer

"Fight the Filter" ISTE Sigms 2nd Webinar!
Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010 at 8 pm E.S.T., 7 pm C.S.T., 6 pm M.S.T., 5 pm P.S.T Presenter: Buffy Hamilton

Want to start your new year off by making a positive difference in your library program? Join ISTE SIGMS for our second FREE webinar on January 13 at 8 pm E.S.T. when Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, will share her ideas on "fighting the filter."

Directions to join the SIGMS webinar event
1. Check that your computer is set up for Adobe Connect by visiting Adobe Connect Pro Connection Test
2. Use this URL to enter the webinar room 10 - 15 minutes before starting time:
3. Enter as a guest and type your first and last name.
4. Here is a link to a Visual Quick Start guide (pdf) to help you if this is your first webinar event.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Internet Awareness and Social Networking

(click here or above for video - i had it embeded before but it was on auto-play and it drove me bonkers!)

I blogged at the beginning of the school year about ethical social networking habits and I want to share a new resource with you so I'm going to re-post it cause it may have gotten lost in the back to school info....I've been saying it for years but it bears repeating - in regards to the Internet:
There is no safe, there is only AWARE
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
Helen Keller, The Open Door -1957

I've been teaching/preaching Internet safety awareness since 2000...I was first asked to do so by Maryland Public Television and then the Horizon Foundation...and through their patronage i created a website called Internet Safety for Parents & Teens that covered a lot of common sense information about how to be more AWARE of the pitfalls and dangers on the Intarwebs. Again, the subject i think that is foremost now is not Safety but Awareness. We have to encourage our kids to be aware of their own digital footprint. To be mindful of what they post and how they cultivate a good Internet profile so that when they apply to college, or a job, they know how they will be perceived by those people who will be digging for information ...and dig they will.

Kids need to know that embarrassing or inappropriate pictures posted are there online and can be found forever. Social networks are NOT inherently bad and they're not going's more about using ethical & wise choices than being scared of the Bogey man out there - though they exist - it's more likely that teens will be harassed by other teens that they know than some stranger. Sad but true fact, teens who are at-risk in general will most likely be at-risk on the Internet.

Parents: what you can do at home
  • have the Internet connected computer in a main room of your the kitchen or living, or family room
  • if you have kids who have laptops and a wireless router, keep the router in your bedroom and disconnect the router (unplug & remove) the power cord at bedtime.
  • late night texting is also a concern - if this is a problem re-charge family cell phones in YOUR rooms overnight
  • know what usernames your kids use on facebook, twitter, myspace, etc. ask to see their page...then ask to see their REAL page!
  • make sure that ANY social network they belong to is set to private
  • know how to search the history of your kids computer
More things to think about:

"Hemanshu Nigam, the chief security officer at News Corp. provides advice about the compassionate and kind use of social networking:

  • Post with respect: photos are a great way to share wonderful experiences. If you're posting a photo of you and your friends, put yourself in your friends' shoes and ask would your friends want that photo to be public to everyone. If yes, then you're uploading photos with respect.
  • Comment with kindness: compliments are like smiles, they're contagious. When you comment on a profile, share a kind word, others will too.
  • Update with empathy: sharing updates lets us tell people what we think. When you give an opinion on your status updates, show empathy towards your friends and help them see the world with understanding eyes.
from: Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking - CNET News

Play the Friend Finder Game! Interactive fun game testing your social networking skillz!

Talk to your kids about the risks.
  • Explain that online information and images can live forever. It can be very hard and sometimes impossible to take down information that is posted, and photos and information may already have been copied and posted elsewhere.
  • Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
  • Explain that anyone in the world can access what they post online. Tell your children that some college admissions boards and employers are checking social networking sites before they admit students or hire people.
  • Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you – not even their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as your children to talk to other people.
  • Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people face-to-face that they met online.
from the Parents' Guide to Social Networking Websites

The Guidance dept. and i will be holding a parent information night about cyberbullying and Internet awareness later this year....stay tuned!

Other Resources:

Net Cetera
NetCetera - In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, OnGuard Online gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world. - created by the FTC -
For Parents, Teacher Librarians, & Technology Educators: AWESOME FREE Bulk Brochures & Bookmarks for home, schools & libraries!

Social Networking Sites: A Parent’s Guide
Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
Blog Sites, Profile Sites, Diary Sites or Social-Networking Sites
Safe Teens: Texting, Dating, and Safety

The most effective & reliable Internet safety filter is an
involved, informed & aware parent
and an educated & ethical kid.