Being an African American with a deep interest in history, especially black history, I have always looked forward to February when Black History Month is commemorated in the United States. The holiday began as Black History Week in 1926, the creation of founding scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Dr. Woodson set Memorial Week in February to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
As Generation Xer, born in the 1970s, Black History Month has always been a part of my upbringing memories and provided a welcome respite from my history textbooks, as well as newspapers, movies and television series where blacks, if not totally absent, were often pushed to the margins. Black History Month, though occupying the shortest month on the calendar, was a retort to this pernicious narrative. He encouraged all Americans to reflect on the unique history and important contributions of Black Americans.
What does all this have to do with star trek you might be wondering at this point. Good, star trek has its own role in black history. Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, LeVar Burton’s Geordi La Forge, Avery Brooks’ Captain Sisko, or perhaps Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Burnham saving the galaxy each week are obvious examples, as oars could be written about each actor, the characters they’ve played, and their impact on the real world. But, in addition to real black history hiking did, the franchise also has some deep in-universe black history makers.
A perennial theme in many Black History Month commemorations is the recognition and celebration of historic firsts, key markers of social progress for a people who were, and in many ways continue to be, excluded from the mainstream. dominant in American life. Although human racism is largely a thing of the past in star trekthe future, honoring and respecting human history was not. Let’s take a look at some of the people Alpha Quadrant students might take a closer look at during a Federation-wide Black History Month.
Commander John Mark Kelly
Corn hikingThe cannon story does not establish 21st century astronaut John Mark Kelly (Phil Morris) as the first human to visit Mars, Kelly commanded one of the first manned missions to Mars. Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Tom Paris still remember and revere him centuries after his death. Ares IV module has been lost, as we see in the poignant Star Trek: Voyager episode “One Small Step”. Interspersing Kelly’s fateful last days with TravelerThe mission to recover the Ares IV module reinforced the importance of preserving history and honoring those who came before us and whose sacrifices advanced human progress.
Lily Sloane’s (Alfre Woodard) contributions to mankind’s journey to the stars have been uncovered by the timely journey of the E-Company the film crew Star Trek: First Contact. While historians of the 23rd century, and arguably those of the 22nd century as well, have given the lion’s share of credit to Zefram Cochrane for creating the first warp-capable Earthship, First contact highlights the crucial role Sloane played in helping Cochrane achieve his goal, much like the overlooked or underappreciated roles many black people have played throughout real history to achieve or assist in scientific breakthroughs and similar technologies. hidden numbersanybody?
Doctors Emory Erickson and Richard Daystrom
Although their respective tragic stories are set more than a century apart, there are notable parallels between the lives of doctors Emory Erickson (Bill Cobbs, Star Trek: Enterprise: “Daedalus”) and Richard Daystrom (William Marshall, Star Trek: The Original Series: “The ultimate computer”).
Erickson, the inventor of the molecular transporter, and Daystrom, who created the comptronic and duotronic computer systems, were geniuses whose scientific breakthroughs came relatively early in their respective careers, and this dazzling early success left both men wanting to reach such heights again.
Dr. Erickson’s craving for recognition drove him to conduct a risky subquantum carrier experiment, while Nobel Laureate and Zee-Magnees Prize winner Daystrom created the M-5, a multitronic computer designed to replace crews spaceships seeking the same glory.
The similarities didn’t end there, as the stories of the two geniuses took tragic trajectories. The sub-quantum teleportation experiment cost several lives, including Dr. Erickson’s son, Quinn; and when he took control of ASU Enterprisethe M-5, killed several hundred Starfleet personnel during its test.
Still, Erickson and Daystrom are remembered as Federation heroes. Daystrom’s legacy leaves behind the Daystrom Institute, which continues to play a pivotal role in Star Trek history, as seen most recently in Star Trek: Picard. Erickson’s contributions were also remembered long into the future; eagle-eyed viewers may recall seeing his name in the opening credits of Star Trek: Discoverythe first season.
Captain Tryla Scott
Captain Tryla Scott (Ursaline Bryant), of the USS Renegadeappeared only once, in Star Trek: The Next Generation“Conspiracy”, first episode of the season. At the time, she was the youngest person in Starfleet history to reach the rank of captain, even before Kirk or Picard! Unfortunately, this promising start made her a target for neural parasites who conspired to take over Starfleet. Scott became one of their victims and his fate is still unknown. Scott’s story, rare as it is, shows how some of the most important story makers go unrecognized or how their stories can be quickly and sometimes completely swallowed up by time. Here’s hoping we find out more about Captain Scott and what became of her in the future. star trek production.
These are just a few of the creators of black history who helped build star trekimaginary future. Growing up, the fact that they were fictional didn’t matter to me – they were always heroes to be revered. Also, the creators of Black History on Trek showed me, as a young child, that Black people could and would like to have a future, a future as positive and consequential as the rest of the human family.
C. Edward Sharpe (he/him), originally from Alexandria, Virginia, is an aspiring writer and avid fan of Trek as well as many other things in science fiction. This is his first piece for StarTrek.com, but he hopes it won’t be his last.