NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new online campaign called the #BlackPantherChallenge is sweeping the country.
It’s an effort to raise money to send children and teenagers to see a groundbreaking new comic book movie.
The film takes place in Wakanda, a fictional African nation that’s home to T’Challa — a king with superpowers who’s better known by his alias, the Black Panther.
The character was first seen in a Marvel comic book in 1966. Fast forward 50 years, the movie is set to debut Friday featuring a star studded and predominantly black cast. It’s generating excitement, hashtags, and a challenge to get kids of color into the theaters.
The campaign was started by Astoria resident and marketing expert Frederick Joseph.
“It started with me trying to raise ten thousand, which was going to be enough to send 300 kids from Harlem to see the film,” Joseph told CBS2’s Elise Finch. “When I saw how recepting people were I reached out to GoFundMe and said would you be interested in partnering with me on a national challenge.”
Hundreds of people accepted the challenge, like fashion stylist Pamela Watson. The mother of two is raising $2,500 to help the Boys & Girls Club of Mt. Vernon take nearly 200 students to a show this weekend.
“I hope these kids get an idea of the greatness that’s within them,” Watson said.
Actor Michael B. Jordan, a Newark native and one of the film’s stars, attended a screening for young adults as part of the Newark International Film Festival.
“Just being able to let these kids know that anything’s possible, you’re capable of doing anything you put your mind to something you can achieve it and I’m just like them,” Jordan said. “I’m from the same streets, I caught the same buses, same trains walked the same blocks and if I can do it they can do it.”
Parents and teachers are taking large groups all over the Tri-State Area to special advance screenings.
“It’s inspiring because seeing them on the screen, it means if I grow up and play my cards right I can be on the screen just like them,” Eagle Academy of Harlem eighth grader Christopher Howard said.
While some say it’s just a movie and the characters aren’t real so it shouldn’t matter what they look like, some parents say to their kids it does.
“It gives young African American boys and girls an opportunity to see themselves doing something great,” South Bronx father Nathan Whyte said.
The challenge has raised more than $400,000 nationwide, enough to buy tickets for more than 30,000 kids. The film, which opens Friday, has already broken advance ticket sales records.