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…)