When the imperialists first made contact with the residents of another country, they strived to annex the land for themselves and subjugate what they deemed as the “lesser race” to further society for them and obey their every command. In Star Trek, the first open contact between humans and Vulcans in Bozeman, Montana was a lot less odious. So Star Trek fans celebrate it every year on the day it’s going to happen in the future: April 5, 2063. It’s called First Contact Day and this year’s First Contact Day is going to be one of the best.
These days, among Star Trek fans First Contact Day symbolizes humanity’s dreams for a united Earth and our future beyond the stars. For this year’s First Contact Day, Paramount will be hosting free live panels, featuring the creative minds behind Star Trek and our favorite cast members throughout the years. The virtual event is scheduled at exactly 12:00 PDT on April 5th, via this link on Paramount+.
Here’s their video announcing the big First Contact Day event…
Actress Mica Burton and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Lieutenant junior grade Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) will be facilitating the First Contact Day event remotely. Michaela Jean Burton, best known for her innovative cosplaying and Overwatch interviews, is LeVar Burton’s only daughter. Burton famously portrayed Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge of the USS Enterprise-D.
There are six First Contact Day panels overall. The first kicks off with a presentation and a special announcement. Former Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) will be handling welcoming remarks. The second panel at 12:20 PM PDT features the cast of Star Trek: First Contact, approximately 25 years since it hit theaters. Director Jonathan Frakes, also known for playing Commander William Riker, Picard’s second-in-command, will be joining his fellow castmates in discussing the social significance of the film and memorializing its impact on cultures around the world. The third panel will take place 40 minutes later at 1:00 PM PDT. It celebrates the men and women behind First Contact’s complex creature design, make-up, costuming, photography, and VFX — the little things that allowed the strange new worlds of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to come alive.
Actress Nichelle Nichols, who played communications expert Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, will take the helm for First Contact Day Panel # 4 on behalf of every single woman of color that has been on Star Trek thus far. Nichols made history in the 60s when she became the first black woman in a major role to grace television screens. In 1968, Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” depicted the first interracial liplock on screen, a moment many African-Americans would remember forever, thanks to Nichols’s Uhura and William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk. The fourth panel at 1:30 PM PDT chronicles her character’s lasting impact on film, science, and culture.
Star Trek highlighted plenty of B-stories — or otherwise memorable subplots — for fans to joyously relive. The fifth First Contact Day panel (2:00 PM PDT) will go in-depth into these lesser known plotlines, how they inevitably led to newer, or dare we say quippier, Trek iterations, including Star Trek: Lower Decks, the franchise’s first animated comedy. The last and sixth panel begins 30 minutes later (2:30 PM PDT) with the introduction of Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway, played to perfection by Kate Mulgrew. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’s Kevin and Dan Hageman (otherwise known as the Hageman Brothers) are producing Nickelodeon CG-animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, where Mulgrew will be reprising her role as the Captain of the USS Voyager.
First Contact Day was humanity’s first contact with alien life in general, the encounter involving less xenophobia and more egalitarian strides in technological and socio-political progress, eventually giving rise to a Type III Kardashev civilization Trekkies have come to know as the Federation of Planets. And while history’s initial encounters are hardly cause for celebration, Star Trek’s fictional first contact embraces inclusion and diversity at the highest of levels — an alien lifeform interacting with the human race without having to resort to violence. As Starfleet Command Directive 010 states, “Before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve non-military resolution must be made.”
The momentous first contact between humanity and the Vulcans eventually birthed what would later become Starfleet’s Prime Directive, obligating officers to embrace the principle of non-interference and respect an unknown civilization’s destiny, however tragic or morally questionable it may be. As Captain Picard once said, “History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.”
First Contact Day celebrates the socio-political integration of Trek’s conventionally progressive beliefs, in the hopes they would one day comprise real history. To further assist in the cause, for every person tweeting the hashtag #StarTrekUnitedGives, Paramount Pictures promises to donate $1 to various organizations fighting tooth and nail for equality, social justice, and the pursuit of technological and scientific advancements. A noble quest befitting of Starfleet regulation. Happy First Contact Day! Anything to bring the tenets of the Federation closer to the 21st century!