Television & Movies

From Uhura to Michael, Star Trek evolves with another African-American female character

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Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek from 1966-1969. She was one of the first African-American women to be put in a role of scientific and intellectual merit. It was rare for African-American girls to see a female who looked like them in such a role on television. Now, Star Trek evolves further with another strong, intelligent African-American female character, Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham.

Actress Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham of Star Trek: Discovery (Image Credit:

48 years later and many versions of Star Trek, there is Star Trek: Discovery which streams on CBS All Access, The fee is $9.99 for commercial free streaming. If you can bear an additional fifteen minutes of commercials, streaming of Star Trek: Discovery is $7.99. Be forewarned, the platform isn’t great. Unfortunately, paid streaming subscriptions for popular television series may be here to stay. Nevertheless, that is a different article for a different day.

Star Trek: Discovery is a ten year prequel to the original Star Trek. Martin-Green of Walking Dead fame emerges as First Officer Michael Burnham of the USS Shenzhou and later the USS Discovery. Martin-Green is perfect in the role of Burnham. Burnham is given her father’s masculine first name, Michael. She’s a strong, brilliant and courageous Federation officer. After her parents are killed by Klingons when she was a child, Burnham is raised by Vulcans, no other than Sarek, Mr. Spock’s father.

If you think Burnham is the typical Vulcan personality, expect to be surprised. Burnham is a mixer of her humanity and Vulcan upbringing. There is an inner war raging within her between her emotions and logic. Depending on which side wins the battle, the external consequences are substantial. Burnham’s choices define her as a person and officer in the series.

As Burnham evolves as a character so will Star Trek. It will be interesting to see how far the television series matures. The only thing that might hold back success from Star Trek: Discovery with Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham may be the streaming subscription fee.