When her character kissed James T. Kirk, portrayed by White Canadian actor William Shatner, Nichols was widely recognized for being one of the first interracial kisses on American television. Nichols stated in a 2014 interview that the kiss sequence “changed television forever, and it also changed the way people looked at one another.”

After “Trek’s” three-year run, Nichols switched her attention to space exploration. She assisted NASA in increasing diversity within the organization by assisting with the recruitment of astronauts such as Sally Ride and Judith Resnik, among others.

George Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, shared a heartfelt tribute for his co-star.

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89,” Takei tweeted. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

“We lived long and prospered together,” he continued, displaying a photograph of them making the iconic Vulcan salute.

The National Air and Space Museum posted on Twitter “an inspiration to many, not just for her groundbreaking work on Star Trek but also through her work with NASA to recruit women and people of color to apply to become astronauts.”

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, also paid tribute to Nichelle Nichols. “Godspeed to Nichelle Nichols, champion, warrior and tremendous actor,” wrote Abrams on Twitter alongside a photo of herself with Nichols. “Her kindness and bravery lit the path for many. May she forever dwell among the stars.”

Grace Dell Nichols was born in 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, to a White Southern father and a Black mother. Her great-grandfather was a White Southerner who married a black woman, causing discord among his descendants.

By the time she was 14, Nichols had already been singing in local clubs. Duke Ellington, among others, performed with her when she was young. She frequently performed in Chicago clubs and in the theater.

She arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1960s and took part in Gene Roddenberry’s “The Lieutenant.” Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, and Majel Barrett, among others, appeared on the program.

When Rodenberry was developing “Trek,” he recalled Nichols. When she received the call, she was in Europe.

“(My agent said), ‘They’re doing ‘Star Trek,’ and I didn’t know what a ‘Star Trek’ was,” she stated in an interview.

Nichols came up with the name for Uhura, and she wasn’t in the original script. She was reading a book called “Uhuru” – “freedom” in Swahili – while reading, and suggested that her character be named thus. Roddenberry didn’t like it because he thought it was too harsh.

“I said, ‘Well, why don’t you do an alteration of it, soften the end with an ‘A,’ and it’ll be Uhura?’ ” she said. “He said, ‘That’s it, that’s your name! You named it; it’s yours.’ ”

Nichelle Nichols is survived by her son, Kyle Johnson.