'It makes you feel great.' Durham's Hillside High students watch 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

Akilah Davis Image
Friday, November 11, 2022
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Nearly 100 Hillside High School students attended a special screening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at Southpoint's AMC Theatres.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dozens of Hillside High School students attended a special screening of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" at Southpoint's AMC Theatres.

"I'm excited to take my Black and brown students to go see something that looks like them. That honors them. It gives them power," said Jahara Davis, an English teacher.

It wouldn't have been possible without Davis who called AMC to get approval for an early screening. She also got help from donors in the community to cover the cost of 96 students.

"It's not that many Black or minority superheroes in the Marvel or DC Universe. For it to be Black Panther, a Black male like myself feels inclusive and empowering," said student Tamarion Scott.

It's representation that students say is rarely shown on the big screen.

"It just makes you feel so great to see the Black people come up," said student Veronica Young.

Other students feel the movie opens doors for more superheroes.

"It used to be just White Marvel superheroes. Now it's Black superheroes. Next, it could be Hispanic superheroes," said student Kexy Maya.

North Carolina Central University Mass Communications Professor Dr. Gabriel Cruz says the movie is a big draw because it celebrates cultural diversity.

"It is a message that Afro-futurism is worthwhile and we should be paying attention to it," said Cruz. "It's science fiction or fantasy that centers people of color and incorporates not just the aesthetic but the struggle."

It is messaging that he says everyone is watching including Davis, whose students chant positive affirmations at the start of each class and Thursday afternoon before heading to the theatre.

"I will not fail. I will succeed. My dream, my goals are a reality," students chanted together.

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