OXFORD — Adayshia Jordan learned a few lessons watching the new superhero movie “Black Panther” in Oxford on Monday.
“It taught us about power and what to do with it,” Jordan said. “And it showed I need to believe in myself and keep trying.”
The 14-year-old Anniston resident was one of 115 children from three counties who attended a screening of the new movie at the AmStar 12 theater in Oxford because of a community fundraiser. It was another in a string of recent, similar fundraisers held across the country to give underprivileged children, many of color, a chance to see a mainstream, blockbuster superhero film with a majority black cast.
The Anniston-based Boys and Girls Clubs of East Central Alabama brought the children from its eight centers in Calhoun, Randolph and Talladega Counties. Boys and Girls Clubs are part of a nationwide organization providing educational and recreational services for economically and socially disadvantaged children.
Johnny Byrd, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of East Central Alabama, said the community has raised money to support events for the kids in the past, but the situation with “Black Panther” is unique.
“What’s unique is it’s really about the young children we serve who have not had the opportunity to see people with superpowers ... people who look like themselves,” Byrd said.
“Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, is part of the Marvel Comics movie franchise, which includes other superheroes like Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk. The movie features Black Panther, a superhero and king of Wakanda, a fictional, technologically advanced nation in the heart of Africa. The film is fairly unprecedented, given that it’s a big-budget Hollywood franchise film with a majority black cast and a black director.
The critically-acclaimed movie opened nationwide Friday and has smashed some box office records, having raked in around $218 million in North America in the last four days, according to Disney, which owns Marvel. The money the movie has already earned makes it the highest-grossing film in history by a black director.
A quick Google search online lists various fundraising campaigns across the country created to ensure black, underserved children would have a chance to see the movie.
Katayoun Parki of Anniston, a 1999 graduate of Anniston High School, saw such campaigns online a couple of weeks ago and decided to organize one for the area Boys and Girls Clubs.
“I was thinking that I could give that opportunity to kids around here,” Parki said.
Parki said she made a post about the fundraiser on the social media site Facebook and also asked for money from area organizations like the All Saints Catholic Church in Anniston. The money was raised within a week.
“I wasn’t expecting to raise this much for so many kids to go,” Parki said. “But I’m glad we raised enough money for the tickets.”
After the movie ended, the kids all seemed satisfied with what they saw.
“It was action-packed,” Majesty Johnson, 11, of Anniston said regarding what she liked about the movie. “It was good and kind of funny.”
Kailyn Sanders, 11, of Jacksonville also liked the movie on a technical level.
“I liked the lighting and sound effects,” Sanders said. “And I liked all the characters.”
Kenslei Bowden, 8, of Talladega, said the fighting was her favorite part of the movie. Still, the movie apparently couldn’t convince Bowden to pick Black Panther as her favorite superhero.
“Wonder Woman is my favorite,” Bowden said with a smile.