Feb. 23, 2018

Black Panther

CINEMATIC REWARD — “Black Panther,” a Marvel Studios’ hit with more than $500 million in box office sales, is being used as a reward for several IPS schools and hundreds of students. Local school and community partners are taking students on filed trips to see the movie.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis will reward students in the organization’s mentoring program at four IPS elementary schools with a morning screening of “Black Panther.” The outing at Studio Movie Grill, on the city’s west side, comes with free popcorn and drinks, and a choice of one of four entrees per student.

Also on Saturday, 30 seventh-graders from Wiliam Penn School 49 will attend a screening of the Marvel Studios movie — thanks to the generosity of two private donors, said Principal Corye Franklin.

George Washington High School has raised more than $2,000 to take select students to see the film. The date, however, is a well-guarded secret. According to Principal Emily Butler, a random date for the screening has been chosen and students who attend classes on time that day will be surprised with a trip to see the movie.

While “Black Panther” is being used by IPS educators and community partners to reward students for everything from good behavior to attendance and grades, it is also seen as an empowerment tool for students of color.

“I am excited for the students because they will learn the importance of unity, see a black king, (learn) how negative division can destroy a family, (understand) the intelligence behind technology and, most of all, they will see black people in a positive light,” said Tonya Adams-Macklin, parent involvement educator at Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is of the four schools attending Saturday’s screening with 100 Black Men. Adams-Macklin will serve as one of the school chaperones.

“Black Panther,” which opened Feb. 16 to much fanfare, has already exceeded the $500 million mark at the box office.

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, the film is centered around the return of Prince T’Challa to the African nation of Wakanda after the death of his father, King T’Chaka. But things take a sharp turn after T’Challa takes his rightful place as the nation’s new king and the Black Panther.

“When I was growing up reading comic books, ‘Black Panther’ was the only one that had black characters,” said Robert Hailey, a member of 100 Black Men who organized the Saturday screening. “I want the students to be able to see themselves on screen in a perspective of leadership. From an African-American standpoint, they can see themselves in a positive role. From a Caucasian or Hispanic standpoint, they can see blacks in a different role than what they see on an everyday basis. And from a female standpoint, they’ll see ladies in positive female roles.”

Hailey said mentors and students will spend time talking about the movie afterward.

“It will be interesting to see what they take from it,” said Hailey. “I’m looking to show the kids a great experience and really hope to see it change their perspective. If we can change one or two of them, we will have achieved our goal.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson students are beyond excited about the field trip.

“I feel good and excited to be chosen,” said fifth-grader Jamarrion B., 12. “It’s going to be fun and different from the other Marvel movies because it’s more real life.”

Fifth-grader Bria T., 12, admits she was surprised to find out that she was chosen to attend the movie, but she’s also happy.

“I haven’t seen many superhero movies, but when I do I watch them with my dad. This one seems very exciting, and I don’t have to be with my brothers.”