Besides Shattering Records at the Box Office, Black Panther Marks the Dawn of a “Black Renaissance” in Hollywood

By Irene C. Nwoye | The Harris Poll |

Disney’s Black Panther broke boundaries and records at the box office over the holiday weekend debuting at $235 million in North American theaters.

Other records the superhero movie shattered were: biggest February opening weekend, biggest non-sequel opening weekend, biggest solo superhero launch of all time and the biggest grossing movie in North America directed by a black filmmaker.

The historical and cultural importance of the movie reverberates throughout America and is especially felt by the black community across the world with theaters brimming with black moviegoers decked in traditional African attire or the occasional Prince Akeem garb.

Set in the fictional but technologically advanced kingdom of Wakanda in Africa, the movie evokes an image of a continent untouched by slavery and colonialism. After the death of his father, Wakanda’s new king T’Challa/Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) must protect his nation and its coveted metal, vibranium.

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors described the movie as the dawn of a “black renaissance” in Hollywood. “Wakanda is a representation of what’s possible in both the fictional world of Marvel and in the nonfiction world of the United States,” she said.

In her review of the movie on Glamour, Cullors recounts her work with the BLM movement and fighting for civil rights in a country that often questions the relevance of racism.

“There are right-wing groups on social media boycotting the movie,” she revealed. Cullors is no stranger to dealing with opposition to celebrating black life or even the BLM movement. Back in August 2017, a Harvard-Harris poll showed that 57% of Americans had a negative view of the Black Lives Matter movement; a majority of the dissent came from white voters.

“Unfortunately, some people see black life and the celebration of it as a direct contradiction to American values,” she said. “Instead there is an investment in the belief that Black people are to be feared and thus harmed and discriminated against. Black Panther is a celebration of black life and the global black diaspora, and it centers on a world where black people are in charge of their own destinies.”