The world learned of the devastating loss of Nichelle Nichols on July 31, 2022. Her legacy as a groundbreaking performer is well-known. Nichelle helped bring about a change in Hollywood in regard to female and especially African American actors. A fan favorite, she was always happy to meet and talk with fans. Her favorite activity was performing for an audience, and she was excellent at it.
Though her Hollywood history is widely known, some may not know of her impact on The Federation.
Nichelle joined The Federation in 1986, after a year-long friendship with Federation founder Russ Haslage. She insisted on filling out a membership application like everyone else (The Federation does not issue “honorary” memberships). Nichelle completed her application over dinner at Swingo’s in downtown Cleveland, then vowed her dedication to our organization’s mission to help those in need around the world in the hopes of bringing about the brighter future as seen in ‘Star Trek.’ She included her home telephone number as well as the number at her mother’s home in Chicago, “in case the organization needs anything right away.”
Nichols was one of The Federation’s most ardent supporters and recruiters, promoting the organization at convention appearances for many years. In addition, Nichelle was a major factor in a number of missions and events throughout the organization, sparing no expense to send items to Federation chapters for events. She also immediately signed on for a role in ‘Star Trek: Excelsior,’ The Federation’s pilot for a new CBS show in the year 2000 with George Takei.
Through the years, while the ties between Nichols and The Federation held fast, the friendship between she and Haslage became one of virtual family. Whenever Nichelle was making an appearance in the Midwest, Haslage was by her side. At a cancelled convention in Erie in 1989, Haslage presented Nichols with her favorite after-show gift. Nichelle told Haslage that he was “such a good boy,” resulting in Haslage response of, “Thanks, Mom!” From then on, Haslage referred to Nichols as “Mom.”
The close ties between The Federation, Haslage and Nichols continued to her death yesterday, but they will not end. Her legacy and her contributions to The Federation will live on in the organization, at the organization’s headquarters facility in Huron, Ohio, and in Haslage’s heart. “She may have been a ‘showbiz mom,’ but I loved her like my mom and I will miss her every day. She will always be a part of my work in The Federation,” mentioned Haslage.