First published on September 7, 2016
I’ve been saying that the first woman to grace American currency should Lucille Ball, who became the first real female power-broker in Hollywood, and a staunch advocate for a strange little television show called Star Trek. All snickering aside, Star Trek literally was a watershed moment in culture.
It did change history.
It was her baby.
She fought for it, swept the floors, parked cars, held hands, and encouraged Gene Roddenberry to break so many cultural barriers including the first interracial kiss in television history. She did that. Her simple act of fighting for the unpopular show encouraged an entire generation of scientists, astronauts, and women like me to reach for the stars.
Star Trek inspired an entire generation of geeks to play with new technology, men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The single most important women in this country’s history may just be Lucille Ball, and she will never be remembered for propelling us to to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Without Lucile Ball there would be no Star Trek. The argument can be made that without Star Trek there would be no Microsoft or Apple. NASA would have ceased to exist in the late 1970s. The only group of people who kept the shuttle program alive were lost without we Trekkies who had learned how to organize as a powerful lobby interest.
All joking aside, if history is fair, and it rarely is, it may be that the vision of Lucille Ball proved to be the catalyst that challenged several generations of people to reach for the stars, and tinker with technology that did not even exist, only in the minds of science fiction rights.
The simple advocating to keep Star Trek on the air gave birth to the political activism of tens of thousands of people who refused to let Jimmy Carter kill NASA. Because of Star Trek, we learned how to be more effective activists and how to literally change how things were done in Washington. We learned how to organize and fight. The future of humanity is in space. One day, if we survive as a species and do venture into space to live, her name might just be spoken of in the same awed tones as that of Zefram Cochrane.