Black Panthers: A History of Resistance and Revolution
The term “black panthers” can refer to different groups or movements that have used the symbol of a black panther to express their political or cultural identity. In this article, we will focus on two of the most prominent examples: the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a radical organization that fought against police brutality and racism in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, and the fictional nation of Wakanda, a technologically advanced African kingdom that is home to the superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, two college students who were inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X and the philosophy of Black nationalism. The party’s original name was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, because they advocated for the right of African Americans to arm themselves and defend their communities from police violence and oppression. The party’s members wore black berets and black leather jackets, and carried guns and law books as they patrolled the streets of Oakland and other cities, monitoring police activities and intervening when they witnessed abuse or harassment of Black people.
The party also developed a ten-point program that outlined their demands and goals, such as full employment, decent housing, education, health care, an end to police brutality, and self-determination for Black people. The party also initiated various social programs, such as free breakfast for children, health clinics, legal aid, education classes, and newspapers. The party’s slogan was “All Power to the People”, and they sought to build alliances with other oppressed groups, such as Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, women, and anti-war activists.
However, the party also faced fierce opposition from the government, especially from the FBI, which considered them a threat to national security and launched a covert program called COINTELPRO to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy them. The FBI used various tactics, such as surveillance, harassment, false arrests, informants, provocateurs, assassination attempts, and smear campaigns to undermine the party’s leadership and credibility. The party also suffered from internal conflicts, such as ideological differences, power struggles, factionalism, and violence. Many of the party’s leaders and members were killed or imprisoned in shootouts with police or rival groups. By the late 1970s, the party had largely dissolved.
Wakanda is a fictional country located in East Africa that appears in the comics and movies of Marvel. Wakanda is depicted as an isolated but highly advanced nation that has never been colonized or exploited by outsiders. Wakanda’s wealth and technology are based on its abundant supply of vibranium, a rare and powerful metal that can absorb sound and energy. Vibranium was brought to Wakanda by a meteorite thousands of years ago, and it has been used by the Wakandans to create various inventions and innovations, such as flying vehicles, holograms, weapons, armor, medicine, and more.
Wakanda is also home to the Black Panther, a hereditary title and role that is passed down from one ruler to another. The Black Panther is both the king and the protector of Wakanda. He or she wears a suit made of vibranium that grants enhanced strength, speed, agility, durability, and senses. The Black Panther also has access to a herb that grants superhuman abilities and a connection to the ancestral spirits of past Black Panthers. The Black Panther is responsible for maintaining Wakanda’s security and prosperity, as well as representing it on the world stage.
Wakanda first appeared in Marvel comics in 1966, making it one of the first representations of a modern African nation in mainstream media. Wakanda gained more popularity and recognition after its debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016, especially with the release of the movie Black Panther in 2018. The movie was a critical and commercial success, earning praise for its diverse cast, cultural representation, social commentary, visual effects, soundtrack, and story. The movie also won several awards, including three Oscars. The movie’s sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is scheduled to be released in 2022.