THE THEME of giving back to your community runs strong through “Black Panther,” so it’s only fitting that campaigns and charity efforts have sprung up with one mission in mind: to help disadvantaged kids, many them of color, see Marvel’s ultimate black superhero come to their neighborhood.
The Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, who worked with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler five years ago on “Fruitvale Station,” took to social media two weeks ago to popularize the idea of giving back on the opening weekend of “Panther,” which features a mostly black cast.
“I will be in [Mississippi] when this movie opens,” Spencer wrote on Instagram. “I think I will buy out a theatre in an underserved community there to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero.”
More than 200 grass-roots campaigns have sprouted up in communities worldwide. And one of the most prominent social forces leading up to Friday’s official opening of the film has been the hashtag campaign #BlackPantherChallenge.
Frederick Joseph, a New York-based philanthropist, launched the Black Panther Challenge last month as a GoFundMe campaign. The 29-year-old marketing professional initially sought to raise $40,000 to help children in Harlem see the movie.
Joseph said he felt moved to act because of the film’s positive black representation, as opposed to the negative archetypes and stereotypes he saw in media and entertainment while growing up — as well as the racism he experienced at age 8 when wearing a Batman costume, he told BuzzFeed.
His challenge has spawned more than 400 GoFundMe drives that have raised more than $400,000, according to the website — including donations from Coogler’s fellow Disney filmmaker, J.J. Abrams, as well as Chelsea Clinton, Viola Davis, Ellen DeGeneres (who pledged $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem) and journalist Jemele Hill (who worked with the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Free Press to set up a Detroit screening).
This week, T.I., who is featured in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” films, teamed with Walmart for a free “Black Panther” screening for children in Atlanta.
Civilians, including some columnists of color, have noted that they’re donating to the cause, too.
The entertainment site Rotten Tomatoes is running a list of GoFundMe campaigns to help children see “Black Panther” in scores of American cities.