A crowdfunding campaign to send Harlem kids one of this year's most-anticipated films, Black Panther, has raised over $25,000.
As reported by ABC, New Yorker Frederick Joseph created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to allow kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem to see the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie for free. Joseph set the original goal at $10,000 but his campaign quickly went viral with donates more than doubling that amount, even getting support from filmmaker J.J. Abrams as well as Chelsea Clinton and ESPN's Jamele Hill.
The original plan for the fund was to send around 300 kids to see the film, which marks the first film in the MCU to center around a black superhero, not to mention be made by a predominantly black cast and crew. However, with the influx of funds, Joseph and Harlem Boys & Girls Club executive director Dominique Jones now plan to take all of the children served by the club to see the film. Any leftover funds will be donated to the club.
Jones told ABC that the kids having the opportunity to see Black Panther matters, especially with it featuring a positive role model and hero who looks like them -- in this case, T'Challa/Black Panther, the king of the Wakanda turned superhero played by Chadwick Boseman.
"Oprah really spoke to that in her comments this week at the Golden Globes," Jones said. "She saw someone that looked like her and other kids, when they see someone who looks like them, they see unlimited possibilities... All of our beauty is on display."
The importance of representation is something that Black Panther director Ryan Coogler himself has noted. Coogler recently told Fandango that the cultural element of Black Panther makes the film unique and is part of why the film is so exciting.
"Hopefully we can pull it off, but it has the potential of being something that's really unique in a lot of different ways," Coogler said. "I think that you can't ignore the idea of representation and also the excitement around Marvel Studios and the work that they've been able to pull off when telling original and unique stories. I think that folks are excited to see what the studio is able to cook up."
Joseph's Harlem campaign also isn't the only effort to help get kids to see Black Panther. In Michigan, Hero Nation's Jermaine Dickerson has also been raising funds to send low-income black youth to a free screening of the film. That campaign had an initial goal of $3,000 -- the amount needed to book the theater and provide concessions at no cost to the kids -- and as of the time of this article has raised over $10,000.
Black Panther opens in theaters February 16.