NEW ROCHELLE, NY — To many, the movie Black Panther is a turning point in the cultural history African Americans. It's spurred special screenings across the country.
More than 200 African American children from the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle were treated to a screening of black panther, thanks to Imax/Regal Entertainment as part of the #BlackPanthenChallenge campaign.
It was started by local activist Frederick Joseph. He wanted to make sure black girls and boys would be able to see this movie featuring a comic book character who is the first mainstream superhero of African descent, flanked by an almost entirely black cast of stars.
It’s all about empowerment and these children got the message.
“I like that it had a lot of influence on black people,” Maribel Rumph,10, told PIX11 News. “There’s a lot of movies where it’s just all about white people, but this really empowered and they showed the culture of Africa and that was really nice in a movie."
“Black panther could have given up himself, but he didn’t,” 14-year-old Giovanni Wellington told PIX11. “ He was telling us kids ‘keep on trying, don’t give up on yourself.'"
The #BlackPantherChallenge has inspired more than 300 GoFundMe pages across the country raising more than $300,000.
Actress Octavia Spencer is buying out a movie theater in Mississippi to make the movie available to black children who otherwise might not see it. Similar moves are underway in Detroit, Chicago and elsewhere.
“It was really a great opportunity for our kids to see diversity on film,” Latonya Russell-Humes, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle, told PIX11 News. “Also to see the power of women on film."
“Sometimes we might just hold back and just do what’s regular, but everybody can be a hero," Brendan Clark, a Boys and Girls Club counselor told PIX11. “With that movie, black children in all the boys and girls clubs can see that now and that’s awesome."
Black Panther puts black artists in front of and behind the cameras.
And there’s already a trending twitter hashtag: what Black Panther means to me.
“Seeing a diversity of skin tones and the woman being in charge was really cool,” Mya Dooley, 11, told PIX11 News.
Black Panther officially opens this Presidents Weekend and experts predict sales of at least $100 million across North America.