Elspeth Lorraine

Book Reviews

February 3, 2023

"To Boldly Go: How Nichelle Nichols and Star Trek Helped Advance Civil Rights" By Angela Dalton and Illustrated by Lauren Semmer

As I sit down to write this week’s book review it’s important I set the stage. First, imagine I see this book out of the corner of my eye at the library. To Boldly Go? I know that phrase. Wait, IS THAT A STAR TREK BOOK? It is. I squeal and grab the book, thrilled to pieces. It's about one of my heroes, Nichelle Nichols. At home, I grab my Enterprise starship model and place my personal Star Trek communications device on my shirt. Yes, I have an official (well my husband made it for me) Comms Device. I shout “Hailing frequencies open, sir” and begin the review of my dreams. 

Happy Black History month everyone! It’s time to bring you one of my favorite black heroes and also your new favorite black hero. “To Boldly Go” is a fabulous book about trailblazer Nichelle Nichols. Nichelle was a singer, dancer (she once sang with Duke Ellington!), actress, and dare I say the coolest person ever associated with NASA? While many of you may recognize her as Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek, a name she came up with that means “freedom” in Swahili, what you might not know is that her character in Star Trek was so important during the Civil Rights movement that Martin Luther King Jr. actually begged her not to leave the role and said she was the sole reason he let his kids stay up to watch television. I can’t speak for everyone, but if MLK posts up to you and says, “Keep doing that, it's important”, I’m pretty sure you have to obey. Luckily Nichelle listened and kept showing America what a badass lady can do. Star Trek showed different races of people getting along and thriving in a time when black people were (and still are) being beaten and murdered for being black. Her role in the series directly impacted those fighting for their Civil Rights. Nichelle was also asked by NASA to recruit more people of color and women to NASA. She discovered real life astronauts Sally Ride, Dr. Mae Jemison, and several others! This book covered a huge amount of information in a short space (get it? space?) and Angela and Lauren nailed it!

Bits and Pieces: In case you weren’t sure, I’m a Trekkie. This does not embarrass me, I’m too busy having fun. This book has a home on my shelf and in my heart. Also if you learned something new about a black hero here today, buy this book, share this post or do something to help educate others and yourself. It’s not on black people to educate others, it’s on those of us who are white to educate ourselves. 

Not Sure About: I’ve never been more sure of any topic in my life. Get this book. 

Favorite Part: I refuse to choose. Writing? Perfection. Topic? Brilliant. Illustrations? 60’s swing-tastic.

‍P.S. If you haven’t watched Raven-Symoné play Nichelle on Drunk History, you’re missing out!

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