Honors Tutorial visits Bangor Comic and Toy Convention
By Jennie Woodard
In HON 343: Media Literacy and Identity, we consistently discuss why representation of diverse populations matters in popular media. As Honors is a place where we discuss not only the author of a text itself but also the society for whom the text is created, so does our class examine how messages and images are interpreted and received by popular audiences. Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek in the mid-1960s, serves as a primary example of this ideology. After a chance meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, she recognized that her portrayal of a black female officer on a spaceship (instead of the usual maid or slave) would show America “who we are” and “what images on television can tell us about ourselves.” Dr. King had remarked to her that her character was how black Americans “should be seen,” as powerful and intelligent beings. Myself and four students from HON 343 were honored to get hear her tell this story personally during a Question and Answer session at the Bangor Comic and Toy Convention on Sunday, April 10. She elaborated on meeting Dr. King, her recognition that Lt. Uhura contributed greatly to society’s understanding of women’s and civil rights, and that she was among the very first black women on television who had a hand in the naming and creation of her own character. As the instructor of HON 343, it is a privilege to get to discuss issues so relevant to our society, but to take the experience outside of the classroom and hear from one who has lived such an experience added an extraordinary element to our understanding and discussion. Live long and prosper.