Tag Archives: Black History Month

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

kente cloth

What is a trailblazer? A trailblazer is a pioneer; one that blazes a trail to guide others. Usually the trailblazer is the first one to accomplish something. Sometimes, these accomplishments are considered great, groundbreaking achievements. Make no mistake about it, the movie Black Panther is a trailblazer. It is the first movie of its kind: a movie from a major franchise (Marvel) with a black superhero as the lead character. It’s release is during Black History Month, which adds to the lore of this film.

Why is this important? For some, it isn’t important. For me, it is important. This is because all of the super heroes we all know and love are white characters. DC comics characters Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman is the obvious parallel to Black Panther as a female lead character), and many others are all white. Marvel comics has Spider Man, Iron Man, Thor and many others as lead characters who are white. Black Panther breaks this mold. He is the first of his kind: a black lead superhero.

NOTE: I must pay homage to other black superheroes such as Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) and Catwoman (played by Halle Berry). They are also important characters in the own way. However, those characters are more singular, unlike Black Panther, who is a part of the much larger and more popular Marvel franchise.

In order to fully understand, we must talk about black “firsts” to put the importance of this film into perspective. What is a black “first”? It is the first time someone black accomplishes something significant in history. It is usually a monumental achievement, due to the fact that many of these trailblazers face significant challenges on their way to success. (By the way, let me be the first to “apologize” to anyone who is tired of hearing about black “firsts”. Unfortunately, our inclusion into many American institutions occurred so late that we still have black “firsts” in 2018. You will continue to hear about black “firsts” for a long time to come).

Although it is not on the same level, this movie is the latest of black “firsts” that changed the world we live in. It is groundbreaking like Barack Obama’s ascendancy to become President of the United States. It is like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball. It is similar to Ruby Bridges integrating an elementary school in New Orleans. Each of these black “firsts” opened doors for so many black people, as well as other minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBT as well. People like Barack Obama, Jackie Robinson, and Ruby Bridges are trailblazers: the first of their kind. The movie Black Panther qualifies as a trailblazer as well.

Black Box

  • Black Panther contains imagery, costumes, and scenery that will impress and delight moviegoers.

It depicts a fictional country, Wakanda, and all of its majesty and splendor. It is patterned after the imagery of many areas of the continent of Africa. I guess you could call it a futuristic look the continent that also has images of Africa’s past and present look. This is very important and groundbreaking. It gives positive images of a black civilization and what it should look like under the right direction and guidance. On another level, it shows what some black communities in the United States used to “look” like before urban blight and decay took over. The move Black Panther presents a glimpse of a thriving black community which should not be overlooked.

  • Black Panther depicts a black king, along with other members of his royal family.

Their exploits resemble those of real African kings and queens. We have heard of kings and queens of Africa, yet many of us know little about their accomplishments. The lead character in Black Panther is T’Challa, the new king of Wakanda. All you need to do is research kings like Mansa Musa, Akhenaton, Imhotep and you will see the obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s T’Challa. T”Challa’s mother Romonda is the Queen of Wakanda. All you need to do is research queens Hatshepsut, Makeda “The Queen of Sheba”, and Ann Nzinga “Queen of Ndongo” and you will see obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s Queen Romanda. In this regard, the movie Black Panther serves as a connector to former kings and queens in Africa.

  • Black Panther will instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in many black men, women and children.

Let’s face it: we need to see more images of positive black people who are doing great things. Even though this is just a movie, it sure feels good to see this character on the big screen. It sure feels good to get positive images of “Africa” on the big screen. It sure feels good to know we can be heroes too. It sure feels good to finally be included in this genre of films. The thought of Black Panther just feels good.

The movie Black Panther is a trailblazer that was long overdue. The use of a black superhero in a leading role of a major movie franchise is a remarkable achievement. For me, it is a game-changer. It is another black “first” that needs to be celebrated. I suggest you celebrate by going to see this film, and/or buying it on video. Based on most reviews, it is an outstanding picture. By the way, it will not be long before we see the second installment of Black Panther so enjoy the ride. You are witnessing a trailblazer.

The Kingdom of Wakanda awaits!


Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!

Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!Black History Heroes

…from the book Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now, by Gary A. McAbee

Thanks to the advances we have made from slavery to the Civil Rights Era; we have been left a remarkable gift by the highest achievers of our race. The gift is their stories of success. We all MUST learn about each of these successful people and many more if we are going to tap into ways that will lead to greatness. We need to understand that most, if not all, of the successful people in our race started with little or nothing. Yet, they were able to use what they had to achieve great things. If they could achieve success, why can’t we, with all of the resources we have in the 21st century, become successful too?

We all know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is because he is one of the few African-American leaders we learn about in school. This is why there is an old joke that goes around about trying to answer a question about a successful black American. The “answer” is always Martin Luther King. Who was the first black American to run in a marathon? Don’t know? Say Martin Luther King!

It is a funny joke, but not because it makes you laugh. It’s funny because it is a true, yet very sad commentary on our knowledge of successful black people. We just don’t know enough about black pioneers and creators. There are thousands of books that contain the “secrets” of our race. We have autobiographies of black Americans such as Booker T. Washington and Malcolm X. We have poetry, created by Phyllis Wheatley and Maya Angelou. We have the magazines produced by John Johnson and Earl Graves.

All of this means that finding and reading literature created by or written about successful black Americans should not be a problem. We have been active in the political arena. Our political leaders have scored countless victories that have not only benefited black Americans, but all races of people. We should be proud of their accomplishments and celebrate their successes. Shirley Chisholm and Maxine Waters are shining examples of the impact African-American women can have in politics. Douglas Wilder and Tom Bradley proved that black men could be elected and handle state and large city governments. They all proved to us that it can be done. We simply need to find out how they became successful and use their methods to duplicate their success.

In order to build upon the success of others, we must learn about them. Unfortunately, as a whole, African Americans don’t read enough or do our own research unless we have to. We should be willing and able to learn about our true heroes: successful black Americans who paved the way for us today. The internet is a blessing to us because we can easily find all there is to know about successful African Americans. There is no excuse why we do not know about the highest achievers in our race.

So the readers of this book have an assignment: to learn more about the following African Americans. First, search for their biographies. What were their beginnings? Next, read about their achievements. What were their goals? What obstacles did they overcome? Finally, learn their secrets to emulate their successes. What achievements make them famous?

The following list of famous African Americans should be researched to learn more about their legacies and contributions to our race. It consists of African-American men and women who achieved greatness in various walks of life. Purposely, it does not include famous athletes or modern day entertainers. Although their contributions are very important, if asked, I am confident that most of them would attribute their success to people on this list. If not, then they have an assignment too!

Some Famous Black Americans

  1. Fannie Lou Hamer
  2. Paul Robeson
  3. Marian Anderson
  4. Mae Jemison
  5. Earl Graves
  6. Booker T Washington
  7. Benjamin Banneker
  8. Madame CJ Walker
  9. Ben Carson
  10. Frederick Douglas
  11. Thurgood Marshall
  12. Shirley Chisholm
  13. Phyllis Wheatley
  14. Mary McLeod Bethune
  15. Sojourner Truth
  16. Matthew Henson
  17. W.E. B. Dubois
  18. Granville T. Woods
  19. Frederick Douglass
  20. Bessie Coleman

After learning about these outstanding examples of success, we should not let our research about the achievements of African Americans stop here. These are only 20 out of millions of successful black Americans worldwide. Our race has produced some of the brightest, most creative minds in human history. We can learn volumes from these people and put their action plans to work immediately. The question is: are we as a race ready, willing, and able to use our heroes as our role models so our race can become successful?

Setting the Record Straight: The Reason for Black History Month and Other Black Institutions

Setting the Record Straight: The Reason for Black History Month and Other Black Institutions

Gary A. McAbee

Any time something is new created, it happens because there is a need for something that does not exist, a lack of something that does exist, or the desire to make improvements on what has already been created. Remember those three elements as a starting point for all creation (need, lack, or improvement) as I set the record straight about Black History Month, Black Entertainment Television, and other black institutions.

Black History Month was created years ago, because there was a lack of information about black historical figures. They were not written about in our history books or recalled in our nation’s history. In many cases, black history did not exist. It had to be added to improve the history that already existed. For one month out to the year, the historical achievements of black people in America are presented to remember these forgotten contributors to the success of our nation. Every February we hear it: Why isn’t there a White History Month?

The answer is simple: There is no need to create a White History Month, because it already exists. Just choose a month. We already learn about the achievements of white Americans throughout history. There is not a lack of white history, because it is always taught in our schools, written in our books, and recalled in our nation’s history.

Black Entertainment Television (BET) was created years ago because there was a lack of black entertainment options on television. In many cases, black entertainment on television didn’t exist. It had to be created to improve on the selection that already existed. As an example, Michael Jackson was the only black artist in heavy rotation on Music Television (MTV) during the early years of the network. BET highlighted black artists to give them exposure in the growing video music industry, and it later expanded to other programming geared toward black audiences. It wasn’t long before we heard: Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television?

The answer is simple: There is no need to create a White Entertainment Television, because it already exists. Just choose a network. We already see white entertainment in the vast majority of television programming. There is not a lack of white entertainment, because you can easily find it on regular network and cable television networks.

The same principles hold true for other black institutions that exist in American culture: the United Negro College Fund and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Black Coaches Association, and on, and on, and on. There was a lack, need, or improvement required that led directly to the creation of these institutions.

I hope you have gained some understanding about the issues up for debate about our black institutions. However, two other key points need to be addressed before this debate should continue:

Point one: Intent… Some people who ask about our institutions are offended by one word in their titles: Black. The word “black” is just an identifier, which is not intended to exclude whites. Everyone can participate in Black History Month; everyone can watch Black Entertainment Television. NOTE: Be careful not to confuse these two examples with private organizations that can legally be selective of their membership. This is another topic for a different article.

Point Two: Institutions… Some people will say that it’s 2015, and one way to end racial strife is to eliminate or integrate black institutions. While this is a valid argument, it does not hold merit. Who has the right to determine whether or not an institution should be shut down? As long as they are legal, institutions have a right to exist. Once a lack is filled, a need satisfied, and an improvement realized, an institution might fade away on its own because it has fulfilled its purpose. It should never be forced to cease operations.

Now that we have set the record straight, welcome to Black History Month 2015! I hope that all people can learn something new while being inspired by the contributions African-Americans have added to our great society.