George Takei Coming to Campus as a Montgomery Fellow

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The Star Trek actor-turned-activist will be visiting in early May.

George Takei
Actor and activist George Takei, who as a Japanese American spent four years in an internment camp during World War II, will be meeting with students and alumni May 2 to 4. (Photo courtesy of ABC/LorenzoBevilaqua)

Actor, activist, social media celebrity, and writer George Takei will be on campus from May 2 to 4 as a Montgomery Fellow.

Takei, who first gained fame portraying Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, will visit with writing and theater students and meet with student members of the Asian American Pacific Islander and LGBTQ communities.

He will also appear as a guest speaker at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association and receive an award from the Dartmouth Film Society. 

On May 2 at 4:30 pm, Takei will give a talk at the Hanover Inn entitled, From Internment to Stardom. The talk is free and open to the public. 

“It is a great privilege for me to welcome my fellow Angeleno to Hanover, and I have every expectation that George Takei will inspire our students and alumni today the way Sulu inspired me when I watched Star Trek in the late 1960s and the way George inspires me now with his fierce advocacy for justice on this planet,” says Steve Swayne, the Jacob H. Strauss 1922 Professor of Music and director of the Montgomery Fellows Program

The Montgomery Fellows program brings luminaries to campus for a variety of activities benefiting students and faculty, housing the fellows at Montgomery House on Occom Pond.

After Star Trek, which aired from 1966 to 1969, Takei appeared in television shows, commercials, as a voiceover actor, in feature films, on stage, and in reality television, including as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, and became increasingly known as a writer and activist.

He is the author of six books, including a 1994 autobiography, a 2019 graphic novel about his Japanese American family’s experiences in internment camps during World War II, and a just-published book for kids aged six to nine entitled My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story. Takei was just 4 when his family was taken from their Los Angeles home by U.S. authorities; they wound up detained in an internment camp in Arkansas for four years.

Takei became involved in California politics in the 1970s, serving as an alternate delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. He ran unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles City Council and was appointed to the Southern California Rapid Transit District.

After coming out as gay in 2005, Takei became a passionate activist for the rights of LGBTQ Americans, fighting for marriage equality and using his large social media following to advocate—often in humorous and viral posts and tweets— for change and for the civil rights of marginalized people. He and his husband, Brad Altman, married in 2008.

While on campus, Takei will also be speaking at the 25th anniversary of DAPAAA in a fireside chat on May 4, says reunion co-chair Belinda Chiu ’98. Chiu says that she was thrilled to help bring Takei to campus through the Montgomery Fellows Program to coincide with the 25th anniversary reunion, which will feature a robust roster of lectures, discussion, and social and networking events.

“This is really a momentous milestone,” says Chiu about the 25th anniversary. “There is still a lack of representation for many within the AANHPI community, and George Takei is someone who has blazed a trail in terms of uplifting voices and stories. He has dedicated his life to social justice, particularly for the AANHPI and LGBTQ communities, and brings an awareness of history and hope to new generations. He lives the work.”

During his visit to Hanover, Takei will be receiving the Dartmouth Film Award. Started in 1979, the award has been presented to actors and filmmakers who have made significant contributions in the world of motion pictures, from Robert Redford and Mira Nair to Meryl Streep and Werner Herzog.

Johanna Evans ’10, head of film and media for the Hopkins Center for the Arts, says that the society will present the award to Takei “for the effortless authenticity he brings to characters who defy stereotypes, for boundless creativity in a variety of art forms, and for consistently leveraging his platform to galvanize a new generation of activists.” 

“In all of his performances, Takei brings gravity and dignity to his characters, without losing the ability to round out their humanity with joy and humor,” Evans says.

Sarah Taylor