Welcome to Wonder Rooms, a collaborative archival and data collection project that looks at the fissures in traditional museum structures by turning MoMI’s long-running exhibit Behind the Screen into a site of testimony and witness.

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This is a new media artwork by Mala Kumar, commissioned by Museum of the Moving Image through generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts (Media Arts Program).

Uhura Action Figure, 1974


Nichelle Nichols was cast in 1966 to play Lieutenant Uhura, a translator and communications officer from the United States of Africa in Star Trek, thus making Nichols the first African-American woman to have a continuing co-starring role on television. And on November 22, 1968, a kiss between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, in the episode titled “Plato’s Stepchildren” was the first time a Black woman was shown kissing a white man on American broadcast television.

It was only the year before that the United States Supreme Court had rules that anti-miscegenation laws that forbade interracial marriage were unconstitutional, and NBC executives, fearing the outrage of conservative Southern audiences, insisted that Nichols and Shatner turn their heads away and pretend to kiss in the episode. But they disregarded the directive, and in a time when Gallup polls still showed that less than one-fifth of Americans approved of interracial relationships, their kiss – though mostly brief and unromantic – was still a significant moment in overcoming the taboo in depicting intimacy between Black and white people.

Tags: Television, Segregation

Further reading

Delmont, Matthew. “TV's First Interracial Kiss Launched a Lifelong Career in Activism.” The Wire. September 6,/2018.