On the left: a photograph of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. On the right: a photograph of author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Ryan Coogler by Gage Skidmore. Ta-Nehisi Coates by Gabriella Demczuk.

Race, Power Dynamics, and Oppression in the Film "Black Panther"


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

The hugely successful film Black Panther was both entertaining and empowering for black Americans. But the film also connects to themes that go deep in our culture: slavery, oppression, the Black Power movement, even gender issues. Director Ryan Coogler deliberately set the opening of the film in his native Oakland, California, where the Black Panther political movement was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale after the assassination of Malcolm X. In this class we will take a close look at several scenes in the film that highlight these deeper issues. Then we will look at well-known author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2017 comic book version. Finally, since characters T’Challa and Killmonger have been compared to Martin Luther King and Malcom X, we will conclude with short writings from each of those great figures. Please watch the film before the first class.

Course Outline

Course Syllabus



Online registration deadline: Thursday, August 25 pm CT

Remote courses require you to login to Canvas to access the Zoom Classroom. You will receive an invitation to join Canvas about a week before your course begins. Please visit the Liberal Arts Student Resources page to find step by step instructions for Canvas and Zoom: Online Learning Resources