This page is dedicated to Sonequa Martin-Green, the first woman of color to play the lead in a Star Trek Franchise. Each month I will explore things about the fascinating character they call Michael Burnham.
***Celebrate Black History Month 2018***
I remember in one of his sketches, the late Richard Pryor, joked about the movie ‘Logans Run.’ In the year 2274 , young Caucasian residents enjoyed an idyllic hedonistic lifestyle in the confines of a secured city, until age thirty. He joked, “white folk ain’t planning for us to be here.” Diversity may have been short sighted in that film, but not in the the TV, cartoon, graphic novels and movie versions of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.
Lets go to the year 2255, tybk. (ten years before kirk) In the Trek Universe, humans have reached an understanding to where differences are embraced. On Earth, diversity is encouraged, and exhibited. In Star Fleet, minorities are given the opportunity to advance in rank to become whom ever they strive to be.
Lets start with….. of course…..Michael Burnham (Sonequa-Martin Green)
Michael Burnham – Served as first officer on the USS Shenzhou, but was stripped of rank for mutiny and given a life sentence. A war time opportunity gave her a second chance by using her Vulcan Academy skills on the USS Discovery. She was pardoned and given the rank of Science Officer. She received the Star Fleet medal of honor for her actions.
Dr. Richard Daystrom (William Marshall)
Dr. Richard Daystrom – One of the greatest scientific minds on earth, created the M-5 computer system with artificial intelligence. It helped run ships like the Enterprise, and whose new system was capable of running a ship by itself, until it displayed erratic behavior. After causing unprovoked deaths, the M-5 system committed suicide by shutting down. Dr. Daystrom had a nervous breakdown after this and was committed. None of this had much impact on the esteem granted to Dr. Daystrom, his work, or the Daystrom Institute research center.
Guinan (Whoopie Goldberg)
Guinan – an El-Aurian, a race of “listeners” that were scattered by The Borg. Guinan served as a bartender on the Enterprise. She developed friendly relationships with many members of its senior staff, particularly Captain Picard. Well over 600 years old, Guinan’s knowledge of the universe, due to her age and her “extrasensory perceptions,” has aided the crew in a number of missions wherever she could be of assistance.
Kasidy Yates Sisko (Penny Johnson)
Kasidy Yates Sisko – Second wife to Starfleet Captain Benjamin Sisko. Before she married Benjamin, Kasidy was Captain of the Petarian freighter SS Xhosa and worked for the Bajoran Ministry of Commerce. I mention her as noteworthy because her relationship with Benjamin is an example of Star Trek guiding the way in a world of sci-fi where fully developed relationships between a black man and a black woman are few and far between.
Of these roles, some lead, some supporting, are all characters that bring diversity to science fiction future, all from the very beginning. Richard Pryor would be pleased.
More on Michael Burnham – Friday March 23rd, 2018