Uhura was seen as so important to social progress that none other than Martin Luther King came to see Nichols at one point. Nichols was thinking of leaving the show, but a conversation with Dr. King changed her mind. He told her he was her biggest fan and that she was a vital role model for other black women in America. She decided not to quit.
Over time, Uhura and Nichols became TV icons. Their influence spread so far and wide that people were inspired to pursue careers because of it. Astronaut Mae Jemison has said the character of Uhura was a big part of her deciding on a career with NASA. And Whoopi Goldberg, who acted on Star Trek: The Next Generation, also numbers Nichols among her heroes.
Not only that, but Nichols collaborated with NASA on a recruitment scheme after Star Trek finished. Her role was to help involve more women and ethnic minorities in the space program, and it was a big success. One of the recruits was Sally Ride, later the first American woman to go into space, and another was Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut.