Black Panther and philosophy: what can Wakanda offer the world?

Hoboken, NJ: Wiley (2022)
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Abstract

When the character of Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four no. 52 in July 1966, legendary creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby didn't just write a story about another hero with extraordinary powers, they birthed the first Black superhero. For Lee, "it was a very normal thing," because "A good many of our people here in America are not white. You've got to recognize that and you've got to include them whatever you do." While it might've seemed normal to Lee, Black Panther's (and Wakanda's) significance cannot be overstated. After all, the first Black superhero isn't just a Black superhero, he's the King of an African nation endowed with otherworldly powers, and Wakanda isn't just an African nation, it's the most advanced civilization the Earth has ever seen. Indeed, it shouldn't be lost on us that when Black Panther was introduced (during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s) the thought of a Black President-or an advanced, futuristic African society-would have been, well, unthinkable for too many people.

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Timothy Emmanuel Brown
University of Washington

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