The Marvel Comics creator died on Monday, November 12.
via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Marvel Comics’ former editor-in-chief, publisher, and chairman, Stan Lee, may have passed away on November 12, 2018, but his momentous contributions to popular culture will not soon be forgotten. He co-created most of the company’s deep roster of superheroes, including: Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Iron Man.
But as Lee famously wrote: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Lee and Marvel accepted that responsibility by becoming the first publisher to create a black superhero, T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther, in 1966.
Three years later, Marvel introduced Sam Wilson as Captain America’s partner, The Falcon.
In 1975, Marvel would go on create the first black female superhero, Storm of the X-Men.
“It wasn’t a huge deal to me. It was a very normal natural thing,” Lee told the Huffington Post. “A good many of our people here in America are not white. You’ve got to recognize that and you’ve got to include them in whatever you do.”
“If my books and my stories can change that, can make people realize that everybody should be equal, and treated that way, then I think it would be a better world,” he continued.
From 1965-2001, Lee wrote a column in Marvel’s “Bullpen Bulletins” called “Stan’s Soapbox” in which he sounded off on current events and occasionally needled his competition in the comic book world.
After Lee’s death, a column he wrote in December 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, is going viral.
If you haven't seen it, this is Stan Lee addressing racism in a 1968 edition of Stan's Soapbox, after the assassinations of JFK and MLK.— Andray (@andraydomise) November 12, 2018\n
What an utter shame this advice holds up, word for word, 50 years later. pic.twitter.com/2zRg83QImt
Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen — people he’s never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom.
Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God – a God who calls us ALL — His children.
Pax et Justitia, Stan.
Stan Lee tweeted out an image of the column in 2017 after a woman was killed by a white supremacist at the Unite the Right Rally Charlottesville, Virginia. “[a]s true today as it was in 1968,” he captioned the image.