Black Panther 2

Source: Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

Amid much-deserved hype surrounding the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, there are fans worldwide counting down to February 16 when the movie finally hits theaters. And with as many people who’ve already purchased tickets for the run-away favorite for “can’t-miss movie of the year,” we tend to forget about those who, for one reason or another, are unable to go see the blockbuster in theaters. And that’s where people like Frederick Joseph come in as real-life heroes to those in need.

Joseph, a New York-based professional marketer, took it upon himself to raise money to take 300 underprivileged youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem to see Black Panther. Fueled by the desire to allow children to have the rare opportunity of seeing a Black superhero in their own major motion picture, Joseph created a campaign on GoFundMe to provide potential donors an opportunity to assist however they could. When word of the campaign reached social media, people donated in droves, surpassing the original $10,000 goal and bringing in just under $25,000 to take the kids to the film. All proceeds left over will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem.

CASSIUS spoke to Joseph about the campaign, its viral success, and the impact he sees the film having on the children.

CASSIUS: What sparked the idea to raise money for Harlem’s youth to see the film?

Frederick Joseph: “I wanted to provide an opportunity for children in Harlem that they otherwise may never have.”

C.: Per your website, it appears that you’ve found a way to merge marketing with outreach. What opportunities have you found bringing new-age tactics to an ageless cause?

F.J.: I’m in a very lucky position because I’m actually a professional marketer with years of experience in the cause space. With that said, it was still a very grassroots effort. My friends and family were the sparks that lit the flame. We were messaging every contact we have for potential support.

C.: With Black Panther being one of the hottest projects of the year, did you expect the GoFundMe to catch on as fast as it did? What does it mean to find out that people like director JJ Abrams have contributed to the cause?

F.J.: I’m not sure whether I expected the GoFundMe to catch on so quickly, but I certainly hoped so. I believe in people and they didn’t let me or the children in Harlem down. As far as Katie McGrath and her husband JJ Abrams donating, I am floored. I’m so happy that he sees the importance of representation, though I’m not surprised as he gave us the new Star Wars trilogy, which is lead by a woman.

C.: When you see Black Panther in theaters with your group, what do you personally expect from the film, and what impact do you expect it to have on the kids?

F.J.: I expect Black Panther to be a force for change. Very similar to Get Out, Moonlight, and Girl’s Trip, this film will once again show the power of Black film to not only tell wonderful stories, but also make money. I’m sure Ryan Coogler and the cast will deliver a film for the ages.