Black churches host screenings of ‘Black Panther’

Actor Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther/T’Challa in the new “Black Panther” movie. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

By Adele M. Banks, Religion News Service

(RNS) — Xavier Cooper went straight from his shift as a cook at a fast-food restaurant to an early showing of the “Black Panther” movie — sponsored by his church.

As his elders at Jonahville African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Huntersville, N.C., had hoped, the film had a profound effect on the young man, a leader in the church’s youth group.

Cooper exited the theater with a buoyed confidence about his dreams after spending two hours watching the futuristic kingdom of powerful black people in Wakanda.

“Being an African-American, it shows you that you can do anything you want to,” said Cooper, 17, who wants to own his own record label and production studio.

Across the country — from California to Chicago to Virginia — members of black churches have bought out theaters for screenings and dressed in their favorite African attire to see a superhero who looks like them. And others, from a New York multicultural congregation to a Detroit Muslim professor, are also tapping into the movie’s messages they hope will be particularly affirming to young people of a range of races and religions.

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