On Feb 16 Marvel Studios will release its highly-anticipated superhero film, Black Panther. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o and Angela Bassett, the film tells the harrowing story of a royal African family living in a technologically-advanced utopia.
The film shows Black excellence at its finest with its cast, story location and storyline—all contributing to the trending movement: #BlackPantherChallenge.
Created by New York native and marketing magician Frederick Joseph, the #BlackPantherChallenge — which was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in January — began as an initiative to raise funds for children of color in his area to see the movie at no cost.
“As a Black man in America raised by Black women, representation has always been extremely important to me as well as inclusion,” Joseph told ESSENCE about the importance of the film. “There were never any characters like me such as the ones in Black Panther for me growing up."
Less than a month after launching the campaign, Joseph has accumulated over $40,000 in donations—more than $30,000 over his initial goal. The campaign has also received public backing from stars such as Snoop Dogg, Chelsea Clinton, DeRay Mckesson and Soledad O’Brien. It was also recognized as the largest campaign initiative for an entertainment event/experience in GoFundMe history, according to Joseph's sources at the company.
“I’m happy about people’s response to the initiative,” he said. “People have been overwhelmingly receptive to the initiative and I’m extremely humbled by that. People see that our children deserve opportunities to have experiences such as Black Panther, especially in a time that’s as tumultuous as the current time we live in with a very racist and bigoted Presidential administration. So that’s been amazing.”
But Joseph isn't the only person raising money to send kids to see the superhero film. Currently, there are more than 100 campaigns throughout the country raising money with the hope of inspiring Black children to think out of the box and never limit their abilities.
The Black Panther for Black Achievers campaign notes that only 28 percent of 4th-grade Black students in Nashville read at a proficient or advanced level, which is why they've partnered with the YMCA's Black Achievers Program to provide a minimum of 100 passes to a matinee viewing of Black Panther on its opening weekend.
“I feel amazing by the national impact,” Joseph added.
“It’s been inspiring. But for me—even more than a national impact—I almost lost it when I saw that there were campaigns in Ghana, London, Toronto, Ottawa…that’s been something that’s moved me more so than in our own country. You see that representation and inclusion are not just important to America, but on a global scale.”
To find a #BlackPantherChallenge campaign near you, go here.