Fulfillment. Pride. Undeniable Joy. These are feelings I had leaving the theatre. They are also the same feelings I had after watching the first Black president win the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. It’s the same feelings I get after watching documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement, Black Panther Movement and everything that shows how a group of people were able to find beauty in the hardships that was forced upon them. It’s the strong and driving force of black celebration and excellence in one of its purest forms. Defining the odds and succeeding beyond society’s standards. Black Panther was undoubtedly the image of an uncolonized African country that many of my ancestors and others could only dream about. Even though the country belongs to the colorful pages of Marvel comics and the graphics displayed on the AMC screen, I still maintain the proud and strong belonging of the African Heritage that I cannot trace back. Black Panther does more than feed my Marvel geek fuel, it is the example and has now established the standard for those who have yearned for a Black superhero figure on the big screen.   

Claiming Wakanda and using #wakandaforever is more than a trend. It’s claiming a country that in the end came to the aid of its people that were snatched away over 400 years ago. The scenes of its village weren’t dirt roads with little malnourished children. It showed young men and women from their tribes, embracing their natural locs and curls dressed in Afrofuturistic attire. It displayed thriving businesses and a system of vibranium that debunks all colonial theories that people of African descent were intellectually inferior and cannot guide themselves without their supposedly superiority. Wakanda proudly displaying its Afrocentric views, with no apology. It’s the main reason why hundreds of moviegoers showed up and out in their African and all black attire. It’s celebration of being seen and heard accurately and appropriately. 

As one of the million contributors of the Marvel blockbuster success, I’m reminded that its role was meant for more than an evening of entertainment. It’s knowing that when the night is over, the little Black girl sitting a few rows in front me could go home and become inspired to pursue a career in science and technology after watching Wakanda’s lead engineer, Princess Shuri. It’s knowing that young Black boys and even men will find a new appreciation for Black women and their qualities to lead, even in the role of guards women. 

Black Panther is the love letter in the bottle that finally made its way across the Atlantic shore. The letter reads one of the most impactful statements that King T’Challa said at the end of the movie. 

“Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe." 

Just as T’Challa chose to reveal the real power that an African country possesses and aid those in communities who needed a change that was neglected for over 300 years, we can change the future by changing the now. The celebratory feeling of knowing that now, more than ever; it is time to become bridge builders. It is time to know that there this so much more to learn and to learn collectively. 

The content on this page was produced by students for class assignments under the guidance of their department faculty members.