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Black Panther – Modern Day Black Hero

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Source: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
– Former First Lady Michelle Obama

Since February 1926, Black History Month continues to serve an integral component of American culture. Every February is an opportunity for Americans to learn and appreciate the significant contributions made by the African-American community while also paying homage and respect to key leaders who were seen as heroes to both America and the world.

Some of these renowned change makers that have positively shaped our world include Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Oprah Winfrey, Barack and Michelle Obama, and George Washington Carver.

In the face of adversity and serious hardships, each of these influential figures brought knowledge and expertise from their respective fields into a world where their voices were heard, their ingenuity was respected and their actions and sacrifice opened many doors for more blacks to make a difference in this world.

Celebrating Black History Month in the 21st Century, who would be “the modern day black hero” that people can look up to? One potential modern day black hero would be the recent Marvel blockbuster, Black Panther, which centers on a black superhero, T’Challa a.k.a. “Black Panther” (played by Chadwick Boseman). With a predominantly black cast along with a black director, Ryan Coogler, this film has become a cultural phenomenon that has influenced people and communities both nationally and globally.

Matthew A. Cherry, a movie director, was asked #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe, he said, “It means that my kids and young black kids everywhere will see themselves as heroes capable of leading their own narratives.”

While Black Panther gives greater inspiration and hope to the black community, there is another modern-day black hero to consider.

The founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, is also on the rise. This powerful hashtag, which was used in a recent tweet by actress Alyssa Milano during the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has become a global voice for survivors who were once victims of sexual violence.

When asked how the #MeToo movement originated, she described that “my work started in support of Black and brown girls in the community of Alabama.

And it grew to be about supporting Black and brown girls across the country. And beyond that, it grew to be about supporting marginalized people in marginalized communities. And it was very specifically about supporting survivors.”

Just like Black Panther, Tarana’s #MeToo movement is also sparking a beacon of hope and a great source of inspiration for the black community and beyond.

While the work of these two, along with countless modern day black heroes, is far from over, their tireless efforts will continue to pave a meaningful path towards greater success and further impact that both America and the world will continue to be engaged and driven for years to come.

By: Francis Asprec

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