Black History in Star Wars

Diversity in Star Wars

On Earth, this tends to mean ‘color’. In Star Wars its a bit more than that, given the sheer number of non human species. Everyone isn’t black or white or brown. They might be blue, green, yellow, red or any other color. They aren’t all male or female, some are both, or neither.  But to connect to Earth, lets focus on those black  human characters since people seem to have forgotten they exist, just because no one waved a big ‘marketing’ flag for them.

Characters:

general-landoLando Calrissian: Actor, Billy Dee Williams.

We met him the hard way in The Empire Strikes Back. First he’s friend, then traitor, then we find he really had no choice. As a child its hard (or for me it was) to realize that the entire city was under his management and denying Darth Vader to protect his friend would be the ruin of his citizens. Nonetheless, when he realized they were ruined anyway he helped them escape, seek out and rescue Han. He helped lead the Rebels to victory in Return of the Jedi, firing the shot that destroyed the second Death Star.

But we also met him in stories like the Lando Calrissian Adventures, and found how he got the Falcon. We met him in the Han Solo trilogy and watched him lose it. He and Han shared many an adventure together, and we see him in a few of his own.

After Return of the Jedi he goes back to his Baron Administrator days, trying a mining operation on Nkllon. But he keeps getting yanked back to helping the New Republic. He also hunts for a rich wife (who to his shock he actually finds and falls mutually in love with), helps take over Kessel spice mines and replace the prison with a working facility by those who LIKE working in caves, and retakes Cloud City. (All this in no particular order.) Eventually he has a son named Chance and also helps create a droid army to help fight an extragalactic invader known as the Yuuzhan Vong.

About the Actor: Appearing as Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he also did the voice in numerous video games including Dark Forces: Jedi Knight 2, Jedi Outcast. He has left his unforgettable stamp on both the likeness, voice and character of Lando.
He also appeared in Fanboys ( a parody look at Star Wars fans) as Judge Reinhold.

Appearing in many Star Wars Expanded Universe adventures, he has his own trilogy: the Lando Calrissian Adventures by L. Neil Smith.

Mace Windu in shatterpointMace Windu: Actor, Samuel L. Jackson

A Jedi Council Member, Mace was a close personal confidante of Yoda, stern, no nonsense and utterly dedicated to the Republic. As a close friend of Dooku, he also didn’t believe the man would be behind assassination attempts, proving he was fallible. Mace was wary of Anakin Skywalker, given the lateness of his entry into the Order and his connection to his Mother. He beleived in the prophecy and that Anakin could fulfill it, but was increasingly wary of his friendship with Palpatine. Unfortunately his distrust created a kind of feedback loop: given that Palpatine manipulated the war, and Anakin and even the Council, the fact that they refused to trust him actually pushed Anakin closer to the Dark Side. At the moment of crisis, Mace’s lack of relationship with Anakin after Palpatine had spent years building one proved his undoing.

Appearing in many Star Wars Expanded Universe adventures, but specifically Shatterpoint is focused entirely on Mace’s quest to save his former Apprentice from the Dark Side during the Clone Wars. plus the Mace Windu one shot by Dark Horse comics.

Samuel L. Jackson loved Star Wars so much he offered to be in it even if he was just a trooper. He also convinced Lucas to let him have a purple lightsaber. (http://thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com/2008/01/samuel-l-jackson-hollywood-interview.html)

captain-panaka

Captain Panaka, The Phantom Menace

Captain Panaka: Actor, Hugh Quarshie
A Naboo native and Queen Amidala’s head of security  in The Phantom Menace, he was distrustful of putting their faith in the Jedi but overruled. During the Imperial Era he had been promoted to Moff. He believe the Empire had brought order to chaos.

Fiolla of Lorrd
In spite of images showing a lighter complexion, the book description of her runs darker, as coming from a planet with a high solar radiation.

“The human appeared to be several years younger than Han. She had straight black hair that fell just below the nape of her slender neck. Her skin was rich brown, her eyes nearly black, indicating that she came from a world that received a good deal of solar radiation.” ~ Han Solo’s Revenge, by Brian Daley

 

Salla_Zend

Salla Zend, smuggler

Salla Zend
Han and Salla were an item once, both smuggling with Nar Shaddaa as a base. They fought in the Battle of Nar Shaddaa together when the Empire got it into its mind to totally wipe out the smuggler’s moon. However when Salla lost her ship in a dangeous smuggling job and he rescued her,  she started talking marriage without listening to his reservations. Finally Han gave up on subtle hints and decided to get out of town…or rather, the whole sector for awhile. He jetted off to the Corporate Sector. Salla kept on smuggling, and started to build a new ship. She had permission to fly deep into Imperial Space when Han and Leia needed a lift there. She reluctantly gave them one and even rescued them when they got in hot water but lost her new ship too.

Triv Pothman
Black curly hair, brown skin, this imperial trooper waited decades for a secret imperial battleship to pick him up. by the time the delayed arrival happened he’d gone native and wanted no part of it. sadly there is no artwork of Triv.  He appears in Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly

Sixtus Quinn, from X-Wing Battleground:Tattooine

Sixtus Quinn, from X-Wing Battleground:Tattooine

Sixtus Quinn
Abandoned by his commanding officer on a world where he could’ve been sold as slave, he led his men into joining with Rogue Squadron. He became a resistance fighter, going places the New Republic couldn’t officially hit, such as Thyferra. He first appeared in Dark Horse comics, X-Wing series, Battleground:Tatooine story arc. He reprised his role in the Bacta War. Being a black man was the colorists choice.

dace-diath-jedi

Jedi Dace Diath, Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith

Dace Diath
Jedi Knight from Tatooine that fought in the Great Sith War alongside, and then against Uliq Qel Droma and then Exar Kun. His father was Sidrona Diath. He first appears in Tales of the Jedi, The Freedon Nadd Uprising.

Jolee Bindo, Knights of the Old Republic

Jolee Bindo, Knights of the Old Republic

Jolee Bindo
Fan fav Jolee has the wisdom of a senile, disillusioned Jedi. He left the Order sometime after the Great Sith War and was content to stay alone in exile in the wild lowlands of Kashyyyk until Revan upended his life. Jolee helped bring down Darth Malak and stop his Star Forge.Darth Marr
Thanks to his usually being masked and hooded, you may not know it. But in the rare times he removes it Darth Marr is proven to be a dark skinned human. He is a companion in Knights of the Old Republic video game.

Darth Marr

This is Darth Marr if you preview an armor change. In order to do this, you have to skip out of the first chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire in Star Wars the Old Republic before he .. ah… well before you lose him as companion! credit:Rebelibrarian

Darth Marr
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, because he keeps his face behind a mask. But here is a shot of him if you preview him without the classic armor in Star Wars The Old Republic.

rohlan-dyre-mando

Mandalorean Rohlan Dyre, Knights of the Old Republic Comics

Rohlan Dyre
This honorable mandalorean was highly suspicious of the methods used in attacking the Republic. His people were warriors, but gradually drawing the Republic to war instead of going at them upfront wasn’t there usual approach and he sought the truth. While willing to fight, he also sought to escape the battles to go hunting for answers. In the process he ran into Zayne Carrik and his gang, and at one point was tricked and mistaken for Demagol, who took his place while leaving him to suffer for the immoral scientist’s crimes. Rohlan however, wasn’t done yet. He appears in Knights of the Old Republic comics, beginning in the Flashpoint story arc.

Agent Fauler
A strategic information service agent of the Republic, he was assigned to work with former Czerka employee Kamus to find out what they’d left buried on Tatooine. This is a quest in Star Wars: The Old Republic available to Republic player classes involving the Tatooine planetary story arc.

Behind the scenes or the actors  you don’t see.

Darth Vader:
James Earl Jones, the famous voice from the movies.
Brock Peters (did his voice in the NPR radio dramas) and
Scott Lawrence (did the voice acting in Dark Forces, classic Battlefront 2, Empire at War and more.)

Jar Jar Binks: Voice and CGI Actor: Ahmed Best
He did the acting that was motion captured for CGI in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith thereby paving the way for characters like Gollum and the latest Hulk. He also did the voice: Jar Jar’s voice was the same accent he used reading to his own families children. (Reference here: https://nerdist.com/jar-jar-binks-actor-talks-about-why-backlash-was-so-hard-on-him/  – note that I in NO WAY agree with the authors/interviewers opinion on The prequels or the Phantom Menace.) Don’t claim no diversity and then grumble that it’s racist that a dark skinned guy used the same voice he used to read to his family is racism. That is insulting to him and his family.  Also there are many people who love Jar Jar, especially those who first met Star Wars in the prequels yet his contribution to the very innovations that helped shape modern CGI things like Gollum, maybe even Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk have been ignored. (Source: twitter, but here is a list:  https://www.avclub.com/ahmed-best-calls-out-andy-serkis-for-ignoring-jar-jars-1819955507)
He also did Jar Jar’s voice in video games including:
Gungan Frontier, The Phantom Menace Game, Jedi Power Battles, Bombad Racing,

Voice Actors

Chop’aa Notimo (The Force Unleashed), Master Zez-Kai Ell (Knights of the Old Republic 2) : Billy Brown

Commander Zaletta (X-Wing Alliance)- Andre Ware 

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: The Video Game (1999) Captain Panaka/Neimoidian Controller :  Jeff-Coopwood

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Felix Iresso, Star Wars The Old Republic

Felix Iresso, Republic Soldier, Star Wars The Old Republic

Felix Iresso: Dion Graham.
The character’s ‘default’ face as well as one custom is dark skinned, the actor is as well. He’s one of the romanceable (for female characters) in the Jedi Consular story arc.)

Xalex : Tony Armatrading
The Sith Apprentice is available as a companion in the Sith Inquisitor story arc and to all in Knights of the Fallen Empire.

 

The fact is, it takes a great many people to bring something as grand as Star Wars to life. Invented characters you see onscreen like in Star Wars the Old Republic can come in a variety of colors, as they also do in the imagination of the artists and authors. Its a disservice to the many involved to say they were all white male humans before Disney came along. What’s more the people behind the scenes come in all colors. You rarely can tell looking at the voice credits what color an actor is (they don’t all supply pictures on the internet!) or what color a writer or artist might be, or what color the character is that flows from the pen or ink. Why should they? After all, they are known by their works. And in George Lucas’s Star Wars, diversity has always been part of the package.

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