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NAJEE’S NOTES: ‘Black Panther’ making box-office history

The numbers are in and “Black Panther” is the talk of South L.A. and the nation. The movie, based on a Marvel comic book, just earned a place in the box office history books in its first four days of release. The movie earned $201.8 million between Feb. 16 and 18 and $241.9 million when you had in Feb. 19 ticket sales.

My family and I joined hundreds of fellow “Black Panther” fans at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Rave Cinema. Many of us were dressed in African attire and sat on the edge of our seats, enjoying the film which was co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler and featured an all-star cast headed up by Chadwick Bozeman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker.

The film did not disappoint and continues to be the talk of black America. I haven’t witnessed anything like this since Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” film. If you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. The “Black Panther” and its entire cast brought their A-game. I’m going to see it again.

On Feb. 20, Donald Bakeer, a board member of Project Islamic Hope, and other activists announced a petition drive to Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson calling for his office and his fellow council members to change Degnan Boulevard in Leimert Park to “Wakanda.”

Wakanda is the fictional East African nation appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. It is the most prominent of several fictional native African nations in the Marvel Universe and home to the superhero Black Panther.

But in the words of state Sen Holly Mitchell: “How about we stop talking about moving to #WakandaForever, and simply build it right here?”

Sen. Mitchell is on point. Leimert Park, which is the heart and soul of black Los Angeles, needs to have an increased focus on building and supporting the African-American-owned business community that we have left on Degnan Boulevard. The “Black Panther” movie, though fictional, is a record-setting box office smash and has brought joy and inspiration to African-Americans nationwide.

The African-American community flexed its economic muscle in support of “Black Panther.”

Just imagine what an impact we could make if we gave more support to black-owned business in our neighborhoods. With gentrification a real and growing threat to our African-American institutions and culture in black Los Angeles, now is the time to change Degnan Boulevard to Wakanda and start marking our territory in our community with street names that African Americans nationwide will embrace, identify with and want to support.

A name change to Wakanda can only increase tourism and business in Leimert Park. That’s something we should all support. And if you don’t agree with the name Wakanda, then you should call a press conference and start gathering petitions to support the street name of your choice.

And finally, it’s day 18 and sheriff’s deputies still haven’t found the gun they claimed Anthony J. Weber, the unarmed 16-year-old teen who they shot and killed Feb. 4, had.

Former Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty of lying to federal investigators and was sentenced to federal prison. The Sheriff’s Department has a long history of corruption that leads all the way to the top with Baca.

Why is it hard for some to believe that these deputies aren’t lying? If Weber had a gun, why hasn’t it been found?

Services for Weber will be at Grace Memorial Chapel in Inglewood with a viewing Feb. 23 from 2 to 6 p.m. and the funeral Feb. 24 at noon.

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