News / Toronto

Grassroots initiative aims to inspire youth with private Black Panther screening

Community organizers in Scarborough don't want any Black youth to miss out on the acclaimed Marvel blockbuster, which features a primarily Black cast.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is already acclaimed for featuring a standalone Black superhero, Black director and primarily Black cast — and it's also garnering glowing reviews.

Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios/Disney

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is already acclaimed for featuring a standalone Black superhero, Black director and primarily Black cast — and it's also garnering glowing reviews.

A grassroots initiative in Scarborough is working to get young Black kids an audience with the king of Wakanda.

The blockbuster Marvel movie Black Panther hits theatres next week. The film — already acclaimed for featuring a standalone Black superhero, Black director and primarily Black cast — is also garnering glowing reviews.

A group of community organizers in Scarborough don't want any kids to miss out, especially those with lesser means. The group is seeking donations to host a private screening for about 350 young kids from Black communities.

"This goes beyond a movie night. We want the movie to be a catalyst for broader conversations about the possibilities in life and how to be successful," said Kwesi Johnson, one of the people behind the initiative.

"With Black Panther highlighting the representation of Black folks on the big screen, that is important because we want our youth to see that it is something attainable."

Over 300 Black youth packed a theatre in Scarborough last year to watch Hidden Figures. A similar initiative will show Black Panther.

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Over 300 Black youth packed a theatre in Scarborough last year to watch Hidden Figures. A similar initiative will show Black Panther.

A panel discussion will follow the screening, with local film producers and other professionals from the Black community helping youth understand their ability to overcome challenges.

Similar events are being organized in Toronto and other communities across the country.

The Scarborough initiative builds on a similar event last year, when the community brought together a group of more than 300 girls to watch Hidden Figures, which portrays the success of Black women working in NASA.

Many of the girls who attended that screening drew inspiration from the characters, giving them the courage to pursue STEM courses, said Marcia Brown, founder of Ladies on the Rise and one of the community organizers.

"They got to see themselves and left feeling like, 'Oh my goodness, I could be like her and do great in science,'" she said, noting many of the girls asked to buy the book that inspired the movie.

Using popular films to inspire kids in less-affluent communities can go a long way toward promoting their success as they grow up, said Brown.

"Look at how many kids are excited about Black Panther and think it's related to them. Everyone is definitely going to come out of it with something special."

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