Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series (1966–1969), as well as the succeeding motion pictures, where her character was eventually promoted in Starfleet to the rank of commander. Nichols’ Star Trek character, one of the first African American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, was groundbreaking in U.S. society at the time. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. personally praised her work on the show and asked her to remain when she considered leaving the series.