In part 1 (Click here to read), we addressed the role that the introduction of Black Panther played in the Marvel Universe as it allegorised the Cold War period. In Part 2 we will look at the Afrikan movers and shakers during this period and how they undoubtedly informed Stan Lee & Jack Kirby as well as later Black writers of the character, from Christopher Priest to Ta-Nehisi Coates. This journey will take us all the way into ancient history right back to the present day, so thank you for joining me on this ride.

 

Lets begin by addressing the most obvious correlation – that of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence as founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P Newton in October 1966. Fantastic Four #52, in which King T’Challa was introduced, is dated July 1966. Every narrative on the history of the Black Panther character will make it clear to you that he predates the founding of the Party by a few months, and this is true – BUT only if we are talking specifically about the Black Panther Party for Self Defence. The origins of the BPPfSD beginning in Oakland, lie in the founding of the Lownes County Freedom Organisation in Alabama. Kwame Ture (then known as Stockley Carmichael) and other leading members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), founded LCFO as a political party in 1965 for the sake of “Registering Voters… Running Candidates… Health Clinics”. The Party adopted the Black Panther symbol as a tool of psychological warfare against the Democratic Party at the time whose symbol in Alabama was a white rooster accompanied by the slogan “White Supremacy – for right”.

Thus, the LCFO simply became known as the “Black Panther Party”, inspiring a number of replicas across the country, the most prominent becoming the Black Panther Party for self Defence – who basically adopted the exact same logo. The Black Panther in name and symbol therefore had already become a prominent feature of the Black Power Movement by 1966. (more…)

Who can deny the magnetic draw towards all the big screens of the world as arguably the most anticipated film ever in the history of Hollywood makes its way to a cinema near you. Not only is Black Panther smashing all kinds of records at the box office, but it appears set to be the centre of a seismic cultural shift in the Superhero/Sci-fi genre in particular and Hollywood in general.

 

The excitement has been steadily rising to fever pitch ever since the trailer dropped in the summer/Autumn of 2017.  With a reported “90% Black cast” (1), Black Panther is probably the highest profile and certainly the most expensive film to boast such credentials. Personally, anyone of the names Luptia Nyongo, Chadwick Boseman, Angela Basset, Danai Gurira & Forest Whittaker (to name just a few) is enough to peak my interest in a flick. But putting them ALL TOGETHER – in ONE FILM; The Avenger’s aint got NUTTIN on this Assembly.

 

With Ryan Coogler as writer/director and Kendrick Lamar curating the sound track, it would seem this entire effort has brought to bear the finest array of Black talent you will find anywhere in front of and behind the camera. Black excellence of the highest order is always worthy of recognition and even without seeing the film, congratulations are due.

 

In some ways, the most important factor feeding in to the preemptive success of Black Panther is the political/social climate it has come in. Consistent news worthy prominence of Black issues has created an environment that calls for heightened, varied and multifaceted reflections of Blackness through all creative outlets. A fact which no doubt informed Marvel & Disney’s production & promotional strategy; and a fact which also indicates that it would be unwise to make celebration our only activity at this moment, especially seen as the current climate is merely a mirror of the climate in which Black Panther was first created. With so much psychological, spiritual, emotional and financial investment the film staring Marvel’s first Black Hero, it may be beneficial to look at the significance of Black heroes in the hearts and mind of Black people, the purpose they serve and why they appear so important to us. Let’s lay the foundation – Sankofa with me if you will.

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