Hudlin Entertainment

Reginald Hudlin’s Dwayne McDuffie Award For Diversity Keynote Speech

The inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity was awarded Saturday at Long Beach Comic Expo to Nilah Magruder, creator of “M.F.K.”

Writer, director and producer Reginald Hudlin, former “Black Panther” writer and one of the co-founders of the new incarnation of Milestone Media, delivered the keynote address at the event. Hudlin shared the text of his speech with CBR, and it follows in full.

Text of Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity keynote speech by Reginald Hudlin

Karl Marx said, “All that is solid melts into air.”

To put it another way, stuff be changing.

Remember the Berlin Wall? People were shot for getting too close to it. Now it’s gone… chunks of it on display at art museums.

Reginald Hudlin at Long Beach Comic Expo. (Photo by Tamara Brooks.)My 10-year-old daughter has only known a Black president. She knows some white guys had the job before, but that’s as far back as powered wigs for her.

We’re here to celebrate Dwayne McDuffie. I was a fan of his for a long time. One of the nice things about being quasi-famous is that people you don’t know take your call. I was a fan of Dwayne, so I called him and got invited by the Milestone offices. I met Denys [Cowan], Dwayne, Derek [Dingle] and a lot of the other staffers.

Dwayne told me about getting a phone call from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was a fan of their character Icon. It is a testimony to the talent of Dwayne that he could write a character that would have such appeal to someone so ideologically opposite himself.

Dwayne McDuffie was one of my mentors in the world of comics. He did that for a lot of people. We’ll never know how many because of his humility and generosity. I was able to give back a little when I pleaded with him to move to Los Angeles. He had been forced out of comics by an industry that he turned their collective backs on him. Some might say it was because he was difficult, others might say it was because he stood up and spoke out if he saw something was unfair.

He was in Tampa, living with his family, basically shut down. I told him anyone who could write as well as he did, and as fast as he did, would always have a job here. The lack of certainty concerned him. I pleaded with him to trust me. I’m mainly right about these things. And I was right!

He got a job right away writing in animation, and never stopped until he stopped.

He had finally pushed past all the haters. The marginally successful Black comic book creators who attacked Milestone for having distribution through a major company. I told him they will be forgotten and he would be remembered because he made great product and people saw it. I was right about that too.

He never got what he deserved in the comic book world, despite his great work in television. The fans that hated my work on “Black Panther” attacked his work on the “Fantastic Four” even more, which is hard to imagine. Heavy editorial interference blocked him from writing the “Justice League” storylines he had planned, which were all brilliant.

But none of that matters. Because the work endures and his influence on the industry endures. It’s very chic to celebrate Dwayne now that he’s gone. With the current trendiness of diversity, knockoffs of his work are popping up everywhere. Pretty ironic that white writers would rip off Black creators to tell stories of racial injustice.

Dwayne was a certified genius, a brilliant writer, a giving friend, a loving husband, brother and son.

Dwayne would be very excited by all the nominees for the Diversity Award in his name. They are all terrifically talented authors, and I think he would certainly support the idea of celebrating good work that improves the industry and inspires the fans that have been without representation for far too long. Cause things be changing.

I want to thank Matt Wayne, Charlotte Fullerton and the Long Beach Comic Con for making this happen.