‘Black Panther’ social focuses on the power of inclusion

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Chelsea L. McDowell


“Black Panther,” the film about the Marvel comic superhero, premiered Feb. 16 to a world enveloped in anticipation. While this was the seventeenth Marvel superhero flick to be released to theaters in the past 10 years, no other Marvel movie has experienced such excitement.

To celebrate the premiere, CSU Bakersfield held The History of the Black Panther Party Social, in the Stockdale room, on Feb. 13.

Dr. Tracey Salisbury, first year professor of interdisciplinary studies, was the master of ceremonies for the event that focused on the importance of black representation.

“People in the back, helping themselves with chicken and waffles, why don’t you come on up here and fill in a spot so you can see and hear? Join the rest of the family!”

Salisbury began her presentation.

In the heart of the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the social provided meals to those in attendance.

The power of inclusion was the key topic of Salisbury’s talk.

“I am actually not talking about the Black Panthers and their history, I am talking about the Black Panthers and their connection to the film that’s coming out on Friday,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury began by talking about actor Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhura in the original Star Trek. Nichols wanted to return to her first love of musical theater, but was later dissuaded from leaving the show by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her role as an officer, when blacks were typically cast as the help, was too important for black audiences.

Salisbury explained Black people have played insignificant and negative roles in movies for so long, that when there is finally a black superhero that children of color can identify with, in a self-sustaining African Nation, it becomes the most anticipated film in recent memory.

In the Black Panther movie, not only is the lead a black superhero, but the cast is a majority black ensemble as well.

Kelly Dozier, assistant for the writing program and English department, attended the social.

“I thought it was wonderful,” Dozier said. “The parallels between past and present are important, not just for the aspect of history, but also for the growth of the people. She only had an hour, but she did wonderful for what she was trying to do. Wonderful, I wish more people had come.”

Fabiola Madrigal, a junior English major, was invited to the social by Salisbury herself.

“It really puts into perspective how much it is necessary for this kind of representation, to be included within our media, and for these types of things to be visible. When it’s visible, these things have impact … As a Latina, I love seeing Latina characters on TV,” Madrigal said.

The Black Student Union was also present to hear Salisbury’s talk about the importance of such a film. They had their own table where they sold movie tickets to the premiere at discounted prices.

“We are trying to get a big group of CSUB students, staff, faculty, we are even selling the tickets if you wanted them for your family members as well, so they are open to the community, and we just want a big representation of our campus community there to see the movie,” said Seward.

Senior business management major Ebonie Seward is the Fundraiser Chair for the BSU.

“From the social today, we’re seeing how Black Panther relates to the Black Panther movement that happened in the United States,” Seward said. “We didn’t know what the connection was but today we got to see different historical figures that made a difference here in the US and they’re portraying some of those symbols and images in the movie.”