From an interview with Nichelle Nichols...link to full text here
Ms. NICHOLS: I went in to tell Gene Roddenberry that I was leaving after the first season, and he was very upset about it. And he said, take the weekend and think about what I am trying to achieve here in this show. You're an integral part and very important to it. And so I said, yes, I would. And that - on Saturday night, I went to an NAACP fundraiser, I believe it was, in Beverly Hills. And one of the promoters came over to me and said, Ms. Nichols, there's someone who would like to meet you. He says he is your greatest fan.
And I'm thinking a Trekker, you know. And I turn, and before I could get up, I looked across the way and there was the face of Dr. Martin Luther King smiling at me and walking toward me. And he started laughing. By the time he reached me, he said, yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan. I am that Trekkie.
Ms. NICHOLS: And I was speechless. He complimented me on the manner in which I'd created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you. He said, no, no, no. No, you don't understand. We don't need you on the - to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for. So, I said to him, thank you so much. And I'm going to miss my co-stars.
And his face got very, very serious. And he said, what are you talking about? And I said, well, I told Gene just yesterday that I'm going to leave the show after the first year because I've been offered - and he stopped me and said: You cannot do that. And I was stunned. He said, don't you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen. He says, do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch. I was speechless.
MARTIN: Ms. Nichols, I have to tell you, the same was true in our house. I mean we would run and our parents would literally call and say look, look, you know, she's on.
Ms. NICHOLS: Yes. Yes.
MARTIN: But that's kind of a heavy responsibility, though. I do have to ask you about that. I mean the fact is you did put a side some of your own personal dreams to stay in that role.
Ms. NICHOLS: Yes. Yes. Well, you know...
MARTIN: And then you did three movies. And how does that sit with you now?
Ms. NICHOLS: Well, it's interesting that you said, you know, you would run through the house and look. I met Whoopi Goldberg when Gene was doing The Next Generation and she had told me when Star Trek came on she was nine years old and she said she turned the TV on and saw me and ran through the house screaming: Come quick, come quick. Theres a black lady on TV and she ain't no maid.
Ms. NICHOLS: And that did something to my heart, so I knew that I had made the right decision, because as Dr. King said, you have been chosen.