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Christopher Priest takes a photo with Monroe students

Students at Monroe Demonstration Academy learned a powerful lesson from Black Panther comic writer Christopher Priest: "Success is there for everybody. Success is there for you and nothing in your life should hold you back."

During a special assembly on Friday, November 2, 2018, Priest spoke to more than 240 students about his life and how the decisions you make as a student make an impact. "What you decide to do between now and when you turn 21 is going to determine the rest of your life," Priest said.

Christopher Priest durning speaking to Monroe students.

Priest said he applied for an internship with Marvel Comics when he was in high school, and that decision changed his path. "We make our own fate sometimes by decisions we make in life," Priest said. "I was supposed to be a lawyer, but Spider-Man kinda got in the way."

At 22 years old, Priest became the youngest editor, and first black editor and writer, to ever be in charge of Spider-Man. He was also the first black writer for other comics, including Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Hulk. Eventually, he was asked to bring new life into the Black Panther character.

Christopher Priest takes photo with Monroe administration

Priest said he was able to succeed in his career because of hard work and dedication he put in as a child. He encouraged the Monroe students to do the same, saying: "It's not magic or accident. Some genie didn't come down and blink me into a career. It's all hard work." Priest also said how you handle obstacles is vital to success. He told several stories about breaking into the comic industry as a black man, enduring insensitive jokes and co-workers rubbing his head for good luck. But Priest stuck it out because he knew he wanted to be a comic writer.

"I wanted what I wanted and I wasn't going to let any man get between me and what I wanted. So I had to put up with it until I didn't have to put up with it anymore," he said.

Priest encouraged the students to live a disciplined life and to put an importance on practice to achieve their goals.

After his speech, students got to ask Priest questions and take pictures with him. Each student also received a comic book. 

Watch Christopher Priest's full speech below: