IN JANUARY, the month before Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie opened, then-29-year-old New York philanthropist Frederick Joseph was moved to make sure that children in Harlem saw the film. And so he issued the Black Panther Challenge as a GoFundMe campaign.
The marketing professional’s original $40,000 fund drive, though, mushroomed into a national movement, as hundreds of grass-roots campaigns and similar GoFundMe drives sprouted up, picking up celebrity endorsements (J.J. Abrams, Viola Davis and Ellen DeGeneres, among them). According to GoFundMe, more than $900,000 was raised to help black youth and disadvantaged children see “Black Panther.”
On Wednesday, San Diego’s Comic-Con International announced that Joseph is receiving its 2018 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his passionate idea that spread so far beyond a single community. According to Comic-Con, more than 70,000 children benefited from the #BlackPantherChallenge.
Comic-Con also announced that Comics4Kids, a comic book reading library and literacy charity based in the Pacific Northwest, is the other recipient of this year’s Clampett Award, which salutes people in comics and other popular arts who have worked to aid others.
Joseph’s campaign was born out of his own childhood experience. He told BuzzFeed that he experienced racism at age 8, when he dressed up as Batman. Joseph said he felt compelled to help Harlem youth see the Marvel movie’s positive black representation, which runs counters to the negative stereotypes he said he saw in the media while growing up.
Upon opening in February, “Black Panther” became a cultural phenomenon, sparking countless conversations about race, nationality, class and identity while grossing $1.35 billion worldwide.
Joseph also created the website blackpantherchallenge.org to help provide resources and readings to youth.
The Comics4Kids group, created by comic book dealer Dale Moore, provides children in the Seattle/Tacoma area with access to a 250,000-issue comics collection that spans nearly 140 years. The organization also has a staff of volunteers that travels the nation to promote literacy and creativity through comics.
Animator Bob Clampett, who died in 1984, created the TV series “Beany and Cecil” and directed classic Warner Bros. cartoons, helping to design Porky Pig and Tweety Bird.
The Clampett Awards will be presented next month during the Eisner Awards at San Diego’s Comic-Con.