Organizer raises over $16,000 for Richmond kids to see Black Panther

RICHMOND, Va. — Groups around the nation are taking the “Black Panther Challenge” to fund raise money to send people to the movie for free.  In Richmond, Lance Cooper has raised over $16,000 through GoFundMe and started planning events for the next few weeks.

Cooper is a Richmond youth program director and activist who was inspired by the original Black Panther Challenge launched in New York by Frederick Joseph.  Cooper’s campaign was endorsed by Chelsea Clinton, Black Panther actor Chad Boseman, and Brie Larson.

“My goal is to provide the opportunity for underprivileged children to get the experience of seeing this movie in theaters,” Cooper said. “It is extremely important for them to see characters that look like them portrayed in positive, powerful ways on the big screen.”

Cooper said that donations will pay for tickets for children and chaperones, as well as refreshments. He said that tickets will be distributed within the SM Youth Empowerment Program and throughout Richmond area. Cooper is also working with a PTA member at Richmond school to orchestrate details. Sean Miller, head director with Boys & Girls Club, said that he was approached by Cooper to help distribute tickets but couldn’t confirm all the plans.

“We’re finalizing our 500 kids goal this weekend, so 500 tickets as of now,” Cooper said. “I’m purchasing another 500 tickets for March events.”

He said that Bow Tie Movieland has been very accommodating as they rent theaters. With a ticket breakdown of $10.85 per adult ticket and $7.85 per child ticket, Cooper will be able to send around 1,500 people to see the movie.

“Sunday I’ll be accommodating youth from RVA’s The A.R.T.S. program to experience the film,” he said. “I currently have bookings and Black Panther events scheduled all the way up to the second week of March.”

Cooper said one school did a Black History door decorating contest, and three of those classes will be going to see the film with him.

“It’s just been a great experience and something positive for the kids in our city,” he said.

Cooper said that the remaining balance of donations after the movie experience is paid for will go to local youth empowerment programs and children hospitals.

“Every youth has magic,” he said. “It’s up to us as parents, adults, leaders and teachers, to invest more energy and funds into helping them embrace their magic, and encouraging them to be superheroes in their own community.”