The release of Marvel’s Black Panther is expected to be one of the most culturally important events of 2018. Black audiences will finally get to see a cast of black superheroes featured in a major blockbuster. And with the guidance of a black director, the movie is breaking Marvel records before it’s even released in theaters.
Fredrick Joseph is a fan who believes the film should be seen by young students of color. To that end, he has sent up a GoFundMe campaign to allow children in Harlem to see the film.
As of Friday, January 26, the campaign had blown past its original $10,000 goal. So far, more than 1,300 people have donated $43,282.
However, on January 22, Joseph announced some even better news. Ellen DeGeneres has decided to fund the entire event. The donations from the trending GoFundMe campaign will instead be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem.
“When this started I wanted to provide an opportunity for young people to see themselves in a story, but now we have the opportunity to give those young people access to tell their own stories,” Joseph wrote on the GoFundMe page.
In addition to Ellen Degeneres, celebrities such as director J.J. Abrams, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, and Chelsea Clinton have donated funds.
The Black Panther Launches a New Era in Superhero Movies
While the Black Panther is not the first black superhero to be featured in a Hollywood blockbuster, he’s the first to lead a superhero film since the Marvel era began back in 2008.
The film is diverse in more ways that one. It’s set in the fictional African nation Wakanda.
In order to create this new African nation, Marvel actually sent scouts to African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, and Ethiopia. They also examined traditional neck-rings and ancient garb for the production team to study. Some of the casts’ costumes were even designed in traditional African lace.
With the amount of effort the production team has put into this world-building, it’s sure to have a big impact on people of all ages, genders, and colors. Today, 3.76 million American children dress up as their favorite superhero for Halloween. Now, black kids will have a hero of their own.
“I knew I wanted to do something for the children, especially of Harlem, because it was a community primarily of color. I said to myself, how can I get as many children as possible to see this film and see themselves as a superhero or a king or queen?” explained Joseph.
The money raised through the donations will be used to buy tickets and refreshments for children and chaperones.