Marvel’s newest cinematic offering, Black Panther, has proven to be more than just a movie; it’s a happening—an awakening of Black excellence and agency both on the big screen and off. Already, Black Panther is being celebrated for showcasing dark-skinned sisters, natural hair wearers, and opponents of racism, sexism and oppression as heroes to be revered. And it’s breaking box office records like crazy thanks in part to the national movement afoot with individuals and organizations hosting special screenings of the movie, with several taking place locally.

Swatara Olushola hosted one that was part “earthday” celebration, part cultural awakening. The turnout was so overwhelming, three theaters were needed to house participants. Shannette Prince, owner of Africa On My Back, partnered with Kim Roxie of Lamik Beauty, Computer Tech Camp, Emerging 100 (100 Black Men), Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, Leaders of Tomorrow, The Gents (Northshore High School), Mufasa’s Pride, Yellowstone Academy and YES Prep Public Schools to host a screening for 245 young boys of color.

“We believe representation matters and Black Panther will allow the young men to see themselves as superheroes,” said Prince.

A partial list of Black Panther screening organizers includes the Houston-area Howard Alumni, NSBE/HAULYP, Mayday Network Solutions, SHAPE, KPFT, QM Events, Capital City Black Film Festival and The Empire State Group.

The screening organized by Acorn to Excellence (ATEX), Iota Phi Lambda Sorority and the Wade Smith Foundation, hosted over 800 people (450 students) at the Regal Grand Parkway 22 Cinemas in Richmond. Along with watching Black Panther, participants experienced a Black History Month program celebrating 10 community superheroes and heroines including Defender CEO Sonny Messiah Jiles, Eileen Morris, Obra Tompkins, Paula Ware, Wade & Rita Smith, Judge Clarease Yates, members of the Houston Sabrecats (Houston’s professional Rugby team) and Councilmember Jerry Davis. Former Houston Texan Arian Foster helped fund multiple Black Panther screenings, including the one organized by ATEX.

Said, Olushola whose screening was officially known as “Swat’s Black Panther Party,”

“My hope is that we leave better than when we came; that networking and business connections are made, friendships formed, good energy exchanged, and a true display of freedom, art, unity and love. I want the connections formed, the confidence instilled, and the pride and power to transcend space and time eternally.”

Attendees included Donna Mitchell, Earnest Goodrich, Akua Holt, Isaiah Prince, Dr. Abdul Muhammad, Angela Cezar, Norma Thomas, Tonya Tompkins, Adria James, Tanesha Mosley, Hitaji Aziz, Moravia Mascary, Biko Walker, Marc Furi, Deric Muhammad, David Landry, Nailah Nelson, Russell Guess, Jamila Marshall, Akanke Modupe and hundreds more.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...

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