When Stan Lee created the X-Men for Marvel back in 1963, the then 39-year-old writer tapped into the very real struggles of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement as inspiration for his stories about a group of superhuman social outcasts fighting for their place in a society that hated and feared them.
Much has been written about the strengths and weaknesses of Lee’s allusions to racial inequality on the page, but at this year’s New York Comic Con, he announced a new project he’s working on meant to encourage people to respect each other, regardless of race.
Together with San Francisco-based artist Jerry Olivarez, Lee’s created an enamel depicting a two hands—one white, one black—clasped together beneath the word “respect.”
Speaking to The Washington Post, Lee said that the idea came to him during a conversation with his daughter about how many public figures wear pins and subtle displays of their social beliefs. Lee explained that the meaning of the symbol isn’t that people wearing it have taken one side or another, but that they understand the role of cross-cultural respect in creating social change.
“I’m hoping that the pin will serve to remind people that America is made of different races and different religions,” Lee told The Post. “We’re all co-travelers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”