Black Panther – the movie so far
‘Young black people can be heroes too’: the campaign to send kids to see Black Panther
From Harlem to Peckham, the Black Panther Challenge has blossomed into a worldwide celebration of race, identity and empowerment.
It seems like only yesterday that Marvel released the official trailer for what can now be described as the franchise’s most anticipated film to date, Black Panther. Fans have been waiting for the moment when they’ll finally experience the nation of Wakanda and now it is almost here: in less than a week, everyone will be able to watch the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Panther is proving to be more than just a hashtag trend: it is a film of considerable cultural significance for black communities around the world. So high in fact, that it inspired Frederick Joseph, a marketing consultant and activist from New York to set up a a GoFunMe account.
“The reason I started the campaign,” says Joseph, “is because, at least on this side of the pond, it’s more important than ever in my opinion, for us to have stories and content that’s combatting the rhetoric and racism of the Trump administration.”
It has aspects of feminism, black non-toxic masculinity, loss, pain – and that’s very important for our kids to see
“[Black Panther] is something that is not only wrapped in blackness but is also layered and nuanced. It has aspects of feminism, of black non-toxic masculinity, of loss, of pain, of various black existences – and that’s something very important for our kids to see.”
Marvel commissioned Kenyan Afro-futurist artist Osborne Macharia to create an exclusive art project. Macharia has titled the project “Ilgelunot”, which, in Maasai, means “The Chosen Ones”.
The campaign that began in early January swiftly gained so much attention that Joseph found himself on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, along with Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman. It’s widely known that Ellen never lets a guest go home empty-handed and so the TV host pledged to cover the full $10,000 for the children of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, and their chaperones, to see the movie. The campaign itself has raised more than $45,000 (£32,000), all of which will now be used to fund other programmes for Harlem kids.
With his initiative a success, Joseph took to Twitter to encourage others to become part of a #BlackPantherChallenge and start campaigns in their cities that would fund more screenings for young people. Joseph says: “It [Black Panther] is wrapped in blackness but it’s not inherently American blackness; it’s actually an African blackness and that layer of the black existence is fundamental, globally. I really wanted to elicit change in conversation around the globe, and that’s why I started the challenge versus just ending it at the original GoFundMe.”
To say that Marvel’s Black Panther is one of this year’s most anticipated films would be an understatement.
There are now more than 200 campaigns worldwide linked to the challenge, with over $250,000 raised from more than 4,000 donations. Celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Chelsea Clinton and the film director JJ Abrams, have also made contributions.
As for the #BlackPantherChallenge reaching the UK as well as other countries such as Ghana and South Africa, Joseph said: “For lack of a better term, I’m hyped.” The challenge recently arrived in the UK in the form of #BlackPantherPeckham, created by British actor Jade Anouka. With an original target of £1,000 to send 100 young people to London’s PeckhamPlex, the Chewing Gum star has raised almost £4,000 to rent a screen in the cinema. “I think the film will be an inspiration to so many and I’m especially excited about showing young black people that they can be the hero too,” she said.
“A superhero movie with black actors and that has a great female presence is something I couldn’t even imagine dreaming about seeing when I was younger.” Anouka says. “It’s great to see a superhero film that has black people at the front of it. That doesn’t happen that often. And I think it’s going to be just really inspiring for some young people to see themselves reflected on screen.”
A superhero movie with black actors and great female presence … I couldn’t even imagine dreaming about when I was young
Anouka, who is shortly to be seen in ITV’s psychological-thriller series Trauma, adds: “I hope there will be more of this. I would like to think it encourages a sea change. The advance sales for this film alone show there is a want and a need.”
The #BlackPantherChallenge is now the largest campaign for an entertainment experience GoFundMe has hosted. Joseph says: “I hope this opens the eyes of more studios to be receptive of diverse stories. Not just in the black community but also in the communities of colour generally, for women, LGBTQ communities as well. We have stories and they deserve to be told.”