The current blockbuster Marvel superhero movie Black Panther may have written and directed by African-American creators Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, and it may feature a mostly African-American cast, but the title character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, a team of Jewish comic book creators also responsible for the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men, among others. The character of Black Panther debuted in Fantastic Four in 1966.
Black Panther was introduced at a critical time in Black-Jewish relations. The period from after World War II until around 1966 has been referred to as a “golden age” of interactivity between the two demographics, with American Jews – themselves seen as outsiders – among those at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. praised the Jewish community for their “commitment to the principle of tolerance and brotherhood not only in the form of sizable contributions, but in many other tangible ways, and often at great personal sacrifice.”
Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War changed the way that many groups viewed Israel and American Jews. In their eyes, Israel and Jews were transformed from an oppressed people to a colonial regime. The Black Panther film may represent an opportunity to rebuild lost bridges.
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