One day, at an NAACP function, a fan greeted her: Martin Luther King Jr. He said how important her role was and how his family watched Star Trek faithfully and adored her in particular - the only Black character. Nichols thanked him, but said she planned to leave.
“You cannot and you must not. Don’t you realize how important your presence, your character is? ... Don’t you see? This is not a Black role, and this is not a female role. You have the first non stereotypical role on television, male or female. You have broken ground ... For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people - as we should be.”
Text copied and edited from the article "A conversation with MLK Jr. kept Nichelle Nichols from exiting Star Trek."
Arielle Kass, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - February 2021.