Minnesotans of color gathering for 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' premiere

A theatre lights up
Grandview Theatre on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is one of many local theatres playing 'Wakanda Forever' as it debuts.
Sam Stroozas | MPR News

Marvel Studios is releasing the long awaited sequel to “Black Panther” this week and Minnesotans are planning to come together to the theaters in droves to watch. 

“It is not often that when you look at Hollywood or you look at television, children of color can look out and see themselves in a positive light so what the franchise did was create this amazing energy for young people of color,” Raazon King, president of Gamma Xi Lambda, a Minnesota chapter of the historically Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, said on Thursday ahead of the premiere.

King said this Sunday the fraternity organization will hold a private screening event for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” at the Woodbury 10 Theatre in Woodbury, Minn.

“We already knew a lot of people will be interested in the movie, so we decided that we will rent out an entire theater for families to come together, so it was really about us having a community affair event,” King said. 

It is just one example of communities of color coming together for the premiere.

The importance of “Black Panther” to BIPOC communities

BalenciaSariah Crosby, who is the interim director of African American and Multicultural Affairs at Minnesota State University Mankato, organizes and puts together different events, intentional programming and sessions for the student body.

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Minnesota State University Mankato is holding a free, private screening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” for their student body on Friday at an AMC Theatres location in their area. 

“This screening is something that was put on for all our students and it is targeting Black and African American students because it is an expression of our identity, art and all things fun and creative so that was the driving force behind planning and executing this,” Crosby said. 

Many people see “Black Panther” as inspirational for communities of color because it shows Black people in a positive light as powerful and strong.

When the first “Black Panther” movie came out in 2018, The New York Times Magazine said “Superheroes are powerful and beloved, held in high esteem by society at large; the idea that a normal black person could experience such a thing in America was so far-fetched as to effectively constitute gallows humor.” 

Through the art of cinema, Black Panther broke down the barriers surrounding the narrative about Black people showing strength, grace and richness which helped create the buzz surrounding the franchise. 

“Black Panther” brings Minnesotans together

Positive early reviews for the sequel will only boost the excitement. USA Today movie critic Brian Truitt praised the movie as “a powerful follow-up … that’s funny, clever and heartbreaking, impressive in its world-building, honest in its view of world politics and naturally packed with huge action sequences.” 

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who played the role of King T'Challa aka the Black Panther, unfortunately died in 2020, leaving viewers wondering the direction of the sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Because the movie is centered around a fictional African nation and leaders who focus on protecting their community, it can promote a sense of pride and inspiration for Black viewers.

“With this film I hope that there is this push to just relax and enjoy and to be inspired by something, be human and be vulnerable and to allow the movie to take you where it takes you,” Crosby said. 

Theaters across Minnesota are screening “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” starting Thursday.