February 07, 2018

The #BlackPantherChallenge raised $260,000. Here's what it is and where the money's going.

What does 'Black Panther' mean? Everything.
  By Erin Canty

He's black. His suit is black. His family is black. His country is black. "Black Panther" is blackity-black-black-black. And it's about damn time.

To say people are excited for this film would be an understatement. It's outpacing every other superhero movie ever in early ticket sales and showings don't begin until February 15. It has the potential to be a cinematic game changer.

Other films have featured black superheroes, but "Black Panther" — with a blockbuster budget, black director, and a predominantly black cast — is in a league of its own.

That's why it's so important children, especially black children, get the opportunity to see the film on the big screen.

Children have known a black president, black athletes, and black performers. But they deserve to see every shade of black visibility — from real-life triumphs in American history to science fiction and fantasy legends. From kings and queens to heroes and heartache, the full gamut of blackness can and should be explored on screen.

Image via Marvel Studios.

So when an entire movie about a black superhero/African prince comes along, it's life-changing stuff for a child. No wonder some didn't even believe it was possible.

Need more proof?

These students from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, just found out the whole school is going to see Black Panther. Their reaction can only be described as sheer joy.

A grassroots fundraising effort has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars to buy tickets for kids in need.

Marketing pro and philanthropist Frederick Joseph kicked off the initiative, raising more than $40,000 to take kids from Harlem to see "Black Panther." After his successful campaign, Joseph encouraged others to start their own fundraisers to help send even more children to the theater. People around the world stepped up to Joseph's #BlackPantherChallenge. So far, more than $260,000 has been raised from over 250 campaigns. This money will make it possible for thousands of kids to see the film for free.

"Many of us yearned for the chance to be Batman or Superman, but only if he was black," Jospeh wrote in the Huffington Post. “Black Panther” gives our children the chance to dream those dreams."

Celebrities like Viola Davis, Jemele Hill, Ellen DeGeneres, and Snoop Dogg have chipped in too, using their star power to boost fundraising efforts or launch their own.

Representation and visibility matter.

Seeing someone who looks like you on the big screen is a privilege many take for granted. But it's not lost on generations of black and brown kids who have waited patiently for the opportunity.

And, hopefully, given the early success of the film, they'll never have to wait again.

GIF from "Black Panther."