This all started with a very small idea that morphed into something bigger than I imagined.
My friend Britney went to see Black Panther on a Sunday and on Monday, she was determined to take ten girls to see it. Like so many of us that saw it, we marveled at the depiction of Black people. We weren’t portrayed in a negative light as so many of our films are. The women in the film weren’t over sexualized and we weren’t the stereotypical angry black woman. The men weren’t drug dealers or in jail, but powerful leaders. Black Panther was the film that our kids could see themselves in. And for this reason, Britney was taking ten girls to see it.
If you know Britney, you know she’s a visionary. She sees the big picture and fills in the details later. So when the number grew from 10 to 25, she was undeterred by what it would take to pull this off. This was Britney’s brainchild but because she believes in the power of connections, she began talking to people in her circle. We created a list of close to 30 individuals, organizations and businesses to target for sponsorships. The more we planned, the more this big idea seemed doable.
We contacted the movie theater in Cordele, Georgia and the manager Kim Mercer not only agreed to give us a private viewing of Black Panther, but she gave us the two biggest theaters. 25 girls was a distant memory and that number was now about 125 young people. Didn’t I tell you that Britney thinks big?
Once we saw this was going to be bigger than the original 25, Britney hooked up with Krystal Jones because she had just taken a very large group in Columbus. We decided we would ask for people to sponsor a child to go see the movie. A $25 sponsorship would cover the cost of the movie ticket, concessions, a t-shirt (shout out to Marcus Johnson!!) and transportation to the movie theater. In addition to the list of people we were going to ask, we decided to solicit sponsorships on Facebook.
And then the magic happened. Ya’ll. People gave. And gave. And gave. From Georgia to California to men and women in different countries, people sponsored two, three and four children. We even had someone sponsor a whopping 8 kids!
I was in amazement. I was shocked. I was in tears. People gave so freely without question. Without hating. Without hesitation. Without asking for recognition. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!
Despite a transportation snafu, on Saturday, March 10, 152 kids and chaperones, traveled to Wakanda.
This experience was something I cannot get out of my head for a number of reasons. First, the necessity of a film like Black Panther drove people to be generous. Not only in sponsoring a child, but serving as chaperones or providing gift cards, which we randomly gave out to the kids. SN: One gift card wasn’t random. A young lady named Trinity Brown earned her gift card because as I was walking into the lobby, she was coming out of the bathroom and gave a girl some money that she dropped. She could have easily kept it but she didn’t hesitate to return it. Parents, our kids can and will do the right thing!
When Britney was planning this and the number of kids kept getting bigger, I got worried. What about transportation? What if we didn’t get enough money? What if we couldn’t get enough chaperones? But if you know Brit, then you know she is all about connections. So much of what we were able to accomplish was because of who she knew. On my Facebook page, I posted “With the right team, the right support, the right connections and the right attitude, big ideas can come to fruition.” If nothing else, this taught me that big plans aren’t so big when you have a support system. This wasn’t something Britney was going to take on herself. Sure it was her idea but there were so many other people involved in this. From securing the theater to getting t-shirts to getting chaperones to come from Atlanta or coming home from college in Fort Valley and Howard, this took A LOT of moving parts to accomplish. Life lesson…there is no harm in asking for help. Make connections and use them!
Finally, Britney’s goal for taking kids to see Black Panther was so that our kids could seem themselves on the big screen as a super hero. The lessons, symbolism and the history in the film is something that should be shared and celebrated. What we didn’t know was there were some kids that had NEVER been to a movie theater to see a movie before. I am overjoyed to know this movie, this movie that celebrates Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy was their first cinematic experience.
To some of you, this was just a movie. For me, this was an experience. It’s Monday and I am still on a high from being a part of this. I didn’t write this post to shout out Britney, Krystal and everyone else that contributed (even though they deserve all the kudos for making this happen) but to high light why Black Panther was so important to our kids.