Malcolm X lectured on Lumumba and the Congo until he was assassinated in 1965. Later that year, the Congo Crisis came to an abrupt end. Army chief of staff Joseph Mobutu’s coup d’état put him in charge of a unified Congo. Mobutu, a ready ally of the United States, assured that the world’s most important deposits of uranium would not fall into Soviet hands.

So the origin story of Black Panther introduced in 1966 looks like what would have happened if Batman/Bruce Wayne’s parents had been Patrice Lumumba and Malcolm X. In the face of their murder, the loyal son dons a mask and uses the wealth at his disposal to avenge his parent’s death.

For Black Panther, this also meant keeping the world safe from the misappropriation of vibranium. And Black Panther took on white supremacy. As his story line developed, Black Panther fought apartheid in South Africa and the Klan in the southern United States.

We can now locate him in the pantheon of Marvel heroes and as the star of his own feature film. When we go looking for Wakanda, however, we can find it in a Cold War crisis and an African mine.

This story first appeared on Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective. Follow @OriginsOSU ‏on Twitter.

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