By Hayley Hart / Staff Writer
Regularly overheard in the halls and classrooms at LBCC is talk about favorite TV shows and students comparing shows’ story lines with current world issues.
“Star Trek,” created by Gene Rodenberry and aired from 1966-69, is a show that frequently comes up in the discussions. Some may look back on the episodes and see a late 1960’s whimsical sci-fi show filled with over-acting and bad set designs.
Those who have never seen the series are unaware of the show’s ability to communicate what was going on in our world at the time through the aliens and preposterous circumstances as only a sci-fi show can.
Here is some history to put the time frame into place. According to the Billboard Charts’ archives the No. 1 song the week “Star Trek” premiered, Sept. 8, 1966 was “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan. A case that overturned a law that banned interracial marriage in the U.S. happened June 12, 1967, according to encyclopediavirginia.org. A month after the series was canceled, humans first stepped foot on the Moon.
“Star Trek” might not be what people think of when looking at shows that broke barriers or made people think about current events. It was set in the 23rd century, after all. “Star Trek” hired an African-American actress, a Japanese-American actor and a Russian-American actor.
It was an extraordinarily diverse TV show for the time, maybe even for now.
The show was where TV history was made with the first interracial kiss between Capt. Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols in the season three episode titled “Plato’s Stepchildren.”
A year and a half before the episode aired, interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia. Loving v. Virginia was the Supreme Court case the over turned the law.
A season three episode titled “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” also deals with race. Two aliens who were split down the middle with black and white, one black on the left side the other white on the left side, were brought on board the Enterprise, the shows spacecraft.
These two “races” had been fighting for years over racial superiority and don’t see, as the Enterprise crew does, that no difference exists between the two “races.”
The aliens return to their home planet only to find the entire population has been destroyed by race wars and while still fighting, return to the planet’s surface.
“Star Trek” brought three seasons of controversial and thoughtful moments into people’s living rooms. Nearly 50 years after the original air date, the U.S. and the world still have issues to fight about, same-sex-marriage, gender-neutral restrooms, equal pay across genders and other issues. However, “Star Trek” placed big controversies on TV and showed that the future society envisioned by Rodenberry didn’t seem to notice how big they were.