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Opinion Farewell to two members of Black America’s greatest generation

Bill Russell was arguably the greatest and certainly the most transformational player and coach in NBA history. Nichelle Nichols portrayed Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek,” was a Black actress in a non-racialized role who showed that African Americans, too, could “boldly go where no man has gone before” Russell, who died at 88, and Nichols, who was 89, both received personal support and encouragement from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Russell stood prominently at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King gave the “I Have a Dream” speech. He endured racial taunts, even at home games, and had trouble buying a house in some areas of Boston because of his race.

Nichols had decided to leave the show after the first season to star in a Broadway play. When she told King she was quitting, he forbade it. "For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen," he told her.