The #BlackPantherChallenge has become the most successful GoFundMe campaign in history.
Five days before it’s unleashed upon audiences, Black Panther seems to be the topic of every other tweet you scroll past. There is an endless sea of interviews with the cast and crew, think pieces detailing how Afrofuturism was incorporated into the mythical land of Wakanda, customized emojis, and review round-ups from those lucky enough to have already seen it. This is a level of fervor we have not experienced since The Force Awakens saved us from those dreadful prequels. However, Black Panther feels like less of a movie, and more of a cultural revolution.
Immediately sensing the significance of the film, philanthropist/marketer Frederick Joseph originally launched the #BlackPantherChallenge on GoFundMe as a means to help Harlem children see the movie in theaters. The cause quickly went viral, smashing its goals, and encouraging other cities to take up the cause. Donations have now come from all 50 states as well as 40 other countries from around the world. This week, Joseph announced that the #BlackPantherChallenge crossed over $400,000 allowing more than 30,000 children to see Black Panther this weekend. Joseph is currently responsible for the most successful GoFundMe campaign since their inception, and they’re still collecting payments.
Writing at the Huffington Post, Joseph explained:
“The world of ‘Black Panther’ offers a rare opportunity for black children to see characters in a fantasy world who look like them, in a story that is not only black but depicts our lineage out of Africa…it combats comments like the president’s ‘shithole’ countries…we must back efforts to tear down systems of oppression and support initiatives that bring black joy.”
According to Variety, “Black Panther has amassed more than five million tweets,” marking it the most talked about film on the platform for 2018. On top of Fandango reporting last week that advanced ticket sales for the film have surpassed all first-quarter releases since the company’s creation, Black Panther is gearing up to destroy records. After a decade of predominantly white-male led Avengers adventures have dominated the box office for Disney, Ryan Coogler’s super-monarch has arrived to reveal the worth of African-American dollars. Apparently, Hollywood still needs that reminder after the recent successes of Straight Outta Compton and Get Out, not to mention the endless achievements that lay at the feet of Tyler Perry.
To see the excitement and passion surrounding Black Panther only highlights what a long time coming this conversation has been. As with most progress that happens in this country, dollars will drive its engine. With the potential of a whole new shared cinematic universe spinning out of Black Panther’s myriad cast and settings, there seems to be plenty of future dollars for the Mouse House. Hopefully, not only will T’Challa be the first of many blockbuster champions of color, but he will also inspire a legion of children to contribute to the portrait of heroism.