'A superhero that looks like me': Community raises money for the Black Panther Challenge

LAS VEGAS - Marvel's Black Panther is a rare opportunity for young students to see a black comic book character come to life.  But, that's not all it is because Black Panther is the first Marvel movie about a black superhero, so of course there's a lot of anticipation, excitement, and buzz. 

Now, members of a few local organizations are participating in the 'Black Panther Challenge' in an effort to make sure hundreds of Clark County children see the action-packed film.  The 'Black Panther Challenge' movement was started in Harlem, New York by Frederick Joseph.

"This representation is truly fundamental for young people, especially those who are often underserved, unprivileged, and marginalized," Joseph said.  

His campaign called, The Black Panther Challenge, quickly went viral raising more than $40,000. 

The Las Vegas Campaign came to fruition because of the efforts of a few local organizations: The Urban Chamber of Commerce, 100 Black Men and Women of Las Vegas and Eclipse Theaters. 

The groups are working together to send 600 Clark County School District students to the movies. 

"All I was thinking was yes! Bring out the tiger," said 15-year-old Lyahanna Baltimore, a student at Dream Academy. 

Black Panther showcases a black superhero, a predominantly black cast, and a black director.

"I knew about Black Panther beforehand because I like reading a lot of the older comics," Baltimore said.

For the first time, children of color across the country will get a chance to see a superhero that actually looks like them. 

"Our main goal is to provide an opportunity for 600 children to be able to see the movie," said Kenneth Evans, President of the Urban Chamber of Commerce. "Our goal is to raise $12,000 over the course of the next week or so, and we are already about a third of the way there so we could use more support."

Too often, black people are portrayed as slaves or gangsters in big box films, but Black Panther changes that perception. 

"I think it was cool for other kids to know there is someone out there," 11-year-old Alexander Domingo said. 

Eclipse Theater opened on Dec. 8, 2016. It is the only black-owned theater in Las Vegas. If they raise enough money, the students will be able to experience the movie at Eclipse. 

"I think it's special being a black-owned theater. I think we've kind of shown since we have opened our doors that we are by far giving the best experience from a movie going standpoint," said Nic Steele, Owner of Eclipse Theater. 

Seventy campaigns have already raised nearly $75,000 helping thousands of kids to see the movie. 

"Las Vegas has had a troubled reputation in terms of the education system. They are not seeing enough characters or examples in front of them to allow them to aspire to things that are more excellent than they are used to seeing," said Charles Whitby, VP of Development of 100 Black Men of  Las Vegas.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Las Vegas Black Panther Challenge go here.


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