Fans gather to celebrate black culture and ‘Black Panther’ at inaugural WakandaCon

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CHICAGO, United States of America

A Chicago hotel was transformed over the weekend into the mythical African nation of Wakanda.

About 2,000 people attended the first-ever WakandaCon, which came together less than six months after King T’Challa’s clash with Erik Killmonger in the big screen hit “Black Panther.”
WakandaCon co-creator Ali Barthwell said she started planning the convention in March along with her brothers and two friends.
The event featured a costume parade, art demonstrations and celebrity panels you would expect to see at a fan convention, but it also had sessions on social activism, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, entrepreneurship and gender and racial equality in STEM fields.
“Wakanda is a place free from racism, sexism and homophobia it’s a place of advanced technology,” Barthwell said. “We wanted to talk about the film, but we also wanted to answer the bigger question ‘How can we make a place like Wakanda real?'”
All of the panelists were African-American  about half were women and many of the vendors were local small businesses, who had never worked at a convention before.
Barthwell said they wanted to make it a community event that was welcoming for fans of color.
“We had a lot of people who were cosplaying for the first time and kids wanting to dress up and it was really great,” she said.
She further said they are still taking care of the final details from this year and will start thinking about the future soon.
Barthwell added that WakandaCon was a tribute to the “Black Panther” film and that they did not have any contact or affiliation with Marvel or Disney.
“We’re doing this all out of love,” she said.