BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Fans of the 56-year-old science-fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry have a special reason to celebrate this Thursday.

September 8 has been set aside to honor all things related to Star Trek.

After its first episode aired on NBC in September of 1966, the series became known as a cult classic and went on to have a major impact on pop culture.

From the steps its producers took to break down racial barriers to its featured fictional gadgets that inspired real-world technological advances, Star Trek’s influence on the modern world has been impressively far-reaching.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Trekkie

Even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was reportedly a fan. According to National Public Radio, in 1967, King asked to meet one of the show’s standout stars, Nichelle Nichols.

The late actress was known for portraying the role of one of Star Trek’s African space explorers, Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a time when few women of color had starring roles on popular U.S. television shows.

During Nichols’ chat with King, he told her Star Trek was one of the only shows he and his wife, Coretta, allowed their young children to watch.

And when Nichols confessed she was thinking of leaving the series, King objected profusely, saying, “You cannot do that… don’t you understand what this man (Gene Roddenberry) has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.”

Needless to say, that conversation convinced Nichols to remain on the series.

How modern-day Trekkies honor the series

These days, it doesn’t take much convincing to get science fiction fans to attend the biennial Star Trek conventions that have been occurring since 2012.

The next gathering is scheduled to take place in May of 2023 at Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center.

In the meantime, Louisiana-based sci-fi fans have another event to look forward to: the January 6-8 Fan Expo New Orleans event at the new Orleans Ernest N. Morial Center, which is described as “the ultimate playground for comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming.”

In addition to celebrating during the upcoming NOLA Expo, this Thursday, Trekkies can pay tribute to their favorite sci-fi series by hosting a watch party with friends.

However you decide to spend this year’s Star Trek Day, may you and yours live long and prosper.