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Starr’s father Maverick inspires Starr with his pride in being black. Maverick’s outlook on life draws inspiration from the Black Power Movement, in particular Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. Often called the foil to Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful protests, Malcolm X preached black liberation by any means necessary. The Black Panther Party was a political movement founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. They also fought for black liberation and organized community programs. Maverick follows their lead by running a grocery store, helping to nourish the community. Maverick also organizes the neighborhood gangs to mediate the response to the grand jury verdict, using structures from within Garden Heights to protect the neighborhood instead of relying on the police. However, Maverick’s devotion to his ideals means he ignores the difficult realities associated with them, such as when he initially refuses to move the family out of Garden Heights.
Maverick’s caring nature breaks stereotypes of black fathers in popular media, who are often absent and cold. Maverick’s garden showcases his nurturing personality, mirroring the care he brings to his parenting. Significantly, Maverick had almost been an absentee father, but after going to prison he renounces gang connections entirely. Part of Maverick’s anger toward Uncle Carlos stems from jealousy because Uncle Carlos acted as a father to Starr while Maverick was in prison, living out the negative stereotype of a black father. Maverick attempts to compensate for the missing years by being involved in his children’s lives. The tattoos Maverick has of Starr, Seven, and Sekani emphasize how central they are to his world. In fact, Maverick’s love for his children is the one thing that breaks through Maverick’s devotion to his ideals, which is why he decides to move them out of Garden Heights once King threatens Starr.
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