PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — North Philadelphia’s Mary McLeod Bethune School had 273 students hit the road Thursday to a classroom of a different kind.
Thanks to a community fundraiser that collected more than $4,000 in a week, students from grades 4-8 enjoyed a private screening of “Black Panther” for just $2 each at the Franklin Mills Mall.
“I thought it was the best,” said sixth-grader Nyasia Eeshildes. “I was like, ‘Oh my God. I want to go see it again.’”
“I think it was excellent,” added seventh-grader Gary Outterbridge.
Many who have been waiting to watch this screening say “Black Panther” is more than a movie; it’s ignited a movement that is breaking stereotypes and building conversation.
“It’s really amazing. It’s like a first for everyone. We never saw a full movie about a black actor and all black actresses,” said seventh-grader Sulaiman Freelend. “You get to see people that look just like us doing great things for other people.”
That onscreen representation is something Herman Douglas says he didn’t see as a child, and he’s grateful his students now have that opportunity.
“To finally have an African-American male that fights evil in the world and brings the diaspora together, it doesn’t get more powerful than that,” said Douglas, who has been teaching at the school for ten years.
To continue empowering students, the school’s educators plan to take the kids to historically black colleges and universities, using leftover money from the fundraiser.
“Many of our children never left the block in North Philadelphia basically,” Douglas said.
On this day, they did – and they learned something not taught in textbooks: that like these superheroes, they are powerful enough to climb whatever walls stand in their way.
“This is the first time for me personally to ever see a black hero,” said seventh-grader Daiyannah Brown. “To see how strong they can be and how they can overcome anything, that means the world to me.”