- Stan Lee, the founder of Marvel Comics, died at the age of 95 on Monday.
- Lee spent a lifetime condemning racism, most prominently via the heroes in his comic books.
- “I always felt the X-Men, in a subtle way, often touched upon the subject of racism and inequality, and I believe that subject has come up in other titles, too,” Lee said in a 2016 interview.
Stan Lee spent a lifetime condemning racism and hatred, including via the heroes in his comic books.
Lee, the founder of Marvel Comics, died at the age of 95 on Monday.
The iconic characters he created – including Spider-Man and the X-Men – have enchanted multiple generations of Americans while offering subtle rebukes of discrimination and prejudice.
Throughout his life and career, Lee often spoke out against bigotry, making references to the ways in which he attempted to fight it with his stories.
During an interview in 2016, for example, Lee said he “always felt the X-Men, in a subtle way, often touched upon the subject of racism and inequality, and I believe that subject has come up in other titles, too.”
“But we would never pound hard on the subject, which must be handled with care and intelligence,” he added.
‘If we could only learn that the world is big enough for all of us …’
Here are some of Lee’s most powerful quotes about discrimination and prejudice:
- In 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, Lee wrote: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Racism and bigotry are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them, is to expose them – to reveal for the insidious evil they really are.”
- “The bigot is an unreasoning hater – one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately … He hates people he’s never seen – people he’s never known – with equal intensity – with equal venom … It’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion,” Lee added at the time.
- Lee also wrote: “Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worth of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God – a God who calls us ALL – His children.”
- During a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone,Lee said: “I think the only message I have ever tried to get across is for Christsake, don’t be bigoted. Don’t be intolerant. If you’re a radical, don’t think that all of the conservatives have horns … I think most people want the same thing. They want to live a happy family life, they want to be at peace, they want no physical violence, nobody to hurt them, and they want the good things that life has to offer. But I think everybody sees us reaching that nirvana by a different path.”
- In the same 1971 interview, Lee added: “I think one of the terrible things in the world is that we are so inclined to think in black and white, hero and villain, good and bad, if you don’t agree with me I’ve got to destroy you. If we could only learn that the world is big enough for all of us. For a guy who wants to wear his hair long, and a guy who wants to be a skinhead. Neither of ’em has to be bad.”
- During an interview in 2016, Lee said: “America is made of different races and different religions, but [that] we’re all co-travellers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”
Lee, a World War II veteran and proud native New Yorker, died on Veterans Day.