The local African American community shares reaction to Black Panther’s power black cast and what it means to young black children to see an African hero on the big screen.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Regal Elmwood Center on Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo was packed Friday for the long-anticipated premiere of Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
Some showings were sold out, thanks to sponsored screenings by community groups, which had planned field trips for Buffalo’s youth.
Crossroads Collective partnered with Panthfrica to bring 85 kids from the East side and West side.
“It’s about showing an example of African countries and black leaders as being both powerful, wealthy and intelligent,” said John Washington of Crossroads Collective. “And it’s something that’s rarely seen in popular culture today, so we hope that this marks a shift in that, where these kids are going to grow up in a generation of positive black images, and positive images of Africa.”
Washington said he believes the move depicts a powerful example of what African countries could have been if not for colonialism.
Not only does the movie star a powerful black cast, but the story itself –based on the 1960s comics– also depicts Wakanda, an advanced African country.
“I think it’s good for the culture,” two African American teens who had just seen the movie collectively said.
Emmanuel Kulu, who is with a local black film company, says the black representation is great, but the depiction African American heritage is more unique.
Plug Life Clothing & Black Art Visions “A lot of African Americans don’t know their heritage particularly, so this is great for them to learn more about Africa and what Africa’s really about. It’s not a jungle, it’s a great civilized place,” said Kulu, with Black Art Visions and Plug Life Clothing.
Jayon Stewart, 14, thought the movie not only accurately portrayed accents and African culture, but also he felt it had important life lessons good for anyone, especially impressionable children.
“They had the opportunity and the ability to help one another, and they did that in the movie, and I think it can be good for young children to watch it too, because you know, it teaches to help one another,” Stewart said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown — perhaps the most recognized local black leader — said he collected the Black Panther comics as a kid.
He calls the movie a game changer, and is thrilled to also co-sponsors screening next week for Buffalo youth. Brown says it’s good for young kids to see black representation in movies, especially a character like Black Panther.
“Someone who wants to do the best for their nation, protect their nation, but also who wants to do good in the world and make the world a better place,” Brown said.