Celebrating Black History Month
With some of the greatest black characters, and some equally great cosplayers
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is celebrated around the world. It's a time to celebrate influential people from black history. The month started being celebrated in the UK in 1987, led by Ghanaian Akyaaba Addai-sebo.
Black Characters in the media
The first black superhero appeared in newspaper strips in 1934. Lothar was as a super-strong, bullet-immune sidekick to magician Leon Mandrake. Lothar's character was originally shown as all muscle and no mind, but over time his character was developed and the pair became an equal fighting duo.
Characters like Lothar paved the way for more black characters. But after entering the Marvel universe in 1966, it took Black Panther 50 years to get to the big screen. When he did though, T'Challa and co smashed box offices, and gave young, black children around the world a whole host of incredible role models who looked just like them.
The film is the highest non-sequel and non-ensemble superhero picture, and the highest grossing PG rated film in 2018. And we're lucky enough to be getting a sequel in 2022.
Shuri: Nyvedna Productions
Photography: Alexandra Lee Studios
Netflix, Amazon, and the other platforms are releasing content like there's no tomorrow, which funnily enough is the narrative of The Umbrella Academy.
Allison (played by Emmy Raver-Lampman) is one of 7 super-siblings in the series and became an instant fan favourite. Allison's character skips the common angry non-white woman stereotype, and is instead shown to be deeply compassionate, loving, and emotional. The show attempts a somewhat diverse cast with Diego and Ben in the family too, and not to mention the epic Mary J Blige as Cha-Cha.
Another black, female super in TV recently is Starfire from Teen Titans. While fans didn't love the costume, Anna Diop brought us a refreshing new version of Starfire, and we loved her.
Mask: Rogue Design fx
It's not just in books and on the big screen where diversity is growing, theatre is becoming more colour-conscious too. The Lion King, with a mostly black cast, has been touring the world for over ten years. The musical has won countless awards and has been nominated for countless more. In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton: An American Musical' hit theatres and became an overnight success,. The show followed suit of The Lion King's conscious casting.
The cast is purposely racially diverse, even though the story focuses on white people from history. Lin said on his casting decisions "We're telling the story of old, dead white men but we're using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible....".
Angelica: Gathering Storm Cosplay
Photographer: Amy Elizabeth
The first black character in games was the little pixelated guy in the Atari game 'Basketball' (1978). The black characters that followed were mostly sports players, or gang members.
But times are changing. In 2012 Ubisoft introduced their first female protagonist Assassin, she was also a black woman. Aveline deGrandpré was the French-African child of a wealthy white man and a slave woman. Aveline was followed by Trinidad-born Adéwalé in Assassin's Creed Rogue. The series now has a whole host of non-white leads including Mohawk-British-American Ratonhnhaké:ton and Chinese Shao Jun.
Thanks for reading!
We hope you've found some new cosplayers to support today! Let us know your favourites! And make sure to give some love to your favourite black cosplayer pals this Black History Month.
Photographer: Morales Photography