Black Panther’s release last month—during Black History Month, no less—was an immediate success, quickly raking in an estimated $200 million in its first weekend at the box office, placing itself among the most profitable Marvel movies of all time.
One of the greatest reasons for its success is its unapologetically black all-star cast. With Chadwick Boseman starring as the Black Panther, the entire lineup is flooded with black actors and actresses, not to mention black director Ryan Coogler. But the movie goes a step further: Set in the fictional country of Wakanda, Black Panther celebrates black culture, custom, and tradition, and features a wardrobe inspired by African garb.
Even more recently, A Wrinkle In Time generated a weekend debut of $33 million at the box office. This film is being celebrated for its diversity, especially with Ava DuVernay working as the first African-American woman to direct a major studio film.
A Glance at History
While Black Panther was a beautiful celebration of Black culture for 2018’s Black History Month and A Wrinkle In Time is a wonderful continuation of that same diversity, let’s take a look at other notable milestones worthy of celebration through the decades.
1926: Carter G. Wilson announces Negro History Week in February, which lays the groundwork for Black History Month. A tireless scholar, Wilson also launched the Journal of Negro History in 1916, a publication still in circulation under the name Journal of African American History.
1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom before 250,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The speech was a defining moment in the civil rights movement and placed King among one of America’s most inspiring leaders.
1965: Although initially viewed as controversial for its occasional shock value, The Black Arts Movement sparked mainstream careers for artists like Maya Angelou and generated countless pieces of powerful literature, poetry, and plays.
1974: Clive Campbell rhymes over a beat at a party, and the early roots of hip hop are formed. This musical artform has transformed over the years, but it’s stronger than ever a half-century later.
1977: The last episode of the Roots miniseries becomes one of the highest-rated TV episodes in history. Telling the story of a black family over multiple generations from Africa to the U.S., the series won nine Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award.
1985: The Oprah Winfrey Show launches in more than 120 cities, sparking Oprah’s fame and igniting a storied career that would enable her to donate generously to black causes. Her work culminated in a lifetime achievement award earlier this year.
1999: Michael Jordan retires from the NBA, capping a career in which he won six championships and five MVP awards. Jordan would later return for two seasons with the Washington Wizards.
2003: President George W. Bush signs legislation to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
2009: President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address, becoming the first black president in American History. In his two terms, Obama leads the country of out the Great Recession, transforms health insurance, and champions causes for underserved communities.
And I’m barely scratching the surface as there’s so much to cover. I share this with encouragement that we all realize that black Americans are an eminent part of our nation’s history and so many of us stand on the shoulders of legends who have paved the way for us.