Fifty years ago today, NBC, Paramount, and Desilu all took a risk and launched a science fiction show that featured a multi-racial crew working together as equals to achieve the common goal of the betterment of humanity.
Pop culture and even the entire world were forever changed because of it.
After one pilot failed for being "too cerebral", the show was given another chance (and some brightly-colored uniforms to boot) and it was a much bigger hit than anyone could have anticipated, even if not evident at first. It motivated entire generations not only to explore careers in the fields of science, aeronautics, astrophysics, engineering, and medicine but even proved to entire generations of people of every color, race, nationality, and orientation that they mean something. That everyone is important. That everyone can contribute.
Here was a show that only two decades years after WWII had a Japanese man piloting the ship. Here was a show that in the height of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and the Women's Liberation Movement had not only an African American Lieutenant, but a female African American Lieutenant acting as the primary point of contact in and out of this top-of-the-line Starship.
Here was a show that during the Cold War was brave enough to put a Russian helmsman on the bridge. Mix in a white kid from Iowa in the Captain's chair, a cranky old southern doctor from Georgia, and a Scottish chief of engineering and put them all in charge of a crew of 400 explorers, and you've got the ultimate human adventure. And this crew of humanity's best worked alongside a half-alien who was there to criticize and be skeptical of their every move, but knew that deep down inside, their missions and their cause were just and right because they were unified and their intentions were pure.
It was a show that proved time and time again that if we as a species could simply get over our petty differences and not only accept but actually appreciate our differences that we can come together and do great things.
Six spin-off television series (with a new one due in a matter of months), multiple blockbuster box office hit films, video games, fan-made content, conventions and yes, even fan organizations spread out over the five decades since then, and it's still going strong. We've had life imitate art by designing (and then surpassing) technological marvels based entirely on the props seen on the show. Every fan has their idea of what "worked" or "didn't work" for the franchise, but the overall voice of optimism, unity, hope and peace in the name of the human spirit has always rung true, and while some have said "Star Trek's biggest critics are Trekkies" and it may have had its ups and downs over the years, we can all agree that if we take the morals and lessons learned from the show into the "real world", we can all get one step closer to the life we saw on the screen every week.
And that's a beautiful thought.
So, happy 50th birthday, Star Trek. We look forward to January so that Discovery can relaunch the "wagon train to the stars" and help us learn even more about ourselves and our species and our potential. Here's to another fifty amazing years!