Marvel Studios’ Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has urged African Americans to visit Africa. He says the experience for him, during the filming of the blockbuster, was “life-changing”.

Coogler was speaking at the BET Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, where Black Panther won Best Movie (and South Africa’s Sjava won BET Viewers’ Choice for best international act).

The film – which grossed over $1.3-billion around the world – is now in the top 10 highest grossing films of all time.

Coogler said: “The film is about our experience as being African Americans, also trying to capture the experience of being African on this planet.” He said there are so many factors that can make black people feel ashamed and as if they should aspire to be something different, “and this film is about being proud of who you are and proud of where you come from.”

He urged the audience and listeners at home: “If you can travel to Africa, please go – it really changed my life.

“And if you can’t go, teach your children about Patrice Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta, and all the amazing Africans that we attach to still as African Americans here today.” (Lumumba was the first elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenyatta the first elected president of Kenya.)

Ryan’s speech was a reminder that Black Panther, the first movie featuring black super heroes, was for many so much more than ‘just’ a movie…

WATCH Black Panther director Ryan Coogler’s BET acceptance speech

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