The King of Wakanda has a lot of new fans in Harlem.
A fundraising campaign to buy movie tickets so kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem can see the upcoming “Black Panther” movie has gone viral, raising more than $30,000 in just five days.
The response to “Help Children See Black Panther,” on GoFundMe so was overwhelming that Frederick Joseph, who started the campaign, is now hoping to inspire people to start similar efforts across the country.
“Inclusion and representation for underrepresented groups is everything,” said Joseph, 28, a marketing consultant who lives in Astoria. “Whether you are a young girl, LGBT, or a child of color — seeing yourself in these characters, seeing stories of people who look like you, fuels you to chase your dreams.”
The highly-anticipated movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, the king of the fictional African country of Wakanda and popular Marvel Comics superhero. Ryan Coogler, who received acclaim for his work on “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed,” is directing the film.
On Wednesday, Joseph announced the next phase of the campaign called the #BlackPantherChallenge, urging teachers, coaches and other community leaders to start similar GoFundMe campaigns to purchase movie tickets for children.
The first 10 campaigns will receive a $100 donation from GoFundMe.
Joseph’s original plea drew support from all over, including former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. Donations ranged from $5 to $10,000 from film director J.J. Abrams.
“It’s really amazing,” said Dominique Jones, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem. “Giving our kids the opportunity to see positive images of people that look like them on the screen is tremendous.”
The group serves more than 1,000 young people with educational programs and activities. Donations not used for movie tickets will go to the organization to help them provide services to local children.
“Having our kids see the imagination, connection and commitment of someone like Frederick is also tremendous,” Jones said.
Joseph said the film is full of strong, intelligent characters that kids can look up to.
T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, is a genius who creates innovative technology. The fierce all-female Dora Milaje are Wakandan bodyguards.
T’Challa himself is a regal character who wrestles his new role after the death of his father.
“He is asked not only to save the world but be a good and humble king,” Joseph said. “This is very important for kids to see.”