Kirtland teen raises $1,300 to help teens see 'Black Panther'
Sariah Lewis was inspired by example of New York man
FARMINGTON — A senior attending Kirtland Central High School has raised more than $1,300 to help local teens attend screenings of the new Marvel film "Black Panther" and celebrate its positive representation of people of color.
Sariah Lewis, 17, of Kirtland, started a GoFundMe campaign on Jan. 10 to raise money to pay for teenagers who visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington to see the film. She had raised $1,345 by Wednesday.
The film stars Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa as he returns to the technology-advanced African country of Wakanda to become king following the death of his father T’Chaka.
"Black Panther" is the first Marvel film to feature a predominantly black cast, according to USA Today.
Lewis shared details of the campaign and how she was inspired by a challenge to raise the funds while she met Latisha Joseph, the development director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington,
Lewis was inspired by the #BlackPantherChallenge which she saw on Twitter started by Astoria, New York, resident Frederick Joseph, who wanted to raise money to take children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlem to the film.
He encouraged people to create similar drives in their communities because it was important for children of color to see the representation of themselves on screen as superheroes and royalty, according to his GoFundMe campaign page.
"In this film, they are the main character, they are royalty, they are heroes, they are strong, they are intelligent," Lewis said.
She created her campaign late at night, reaching out to Frederick Joseph on Twitter to find an organization to select, and he helped her decide on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington.
Within hours of creating the campaign, while she was asleep, Lewis had raised about $600, including $100 from the GoFundMe team.
Latisha Joseph told Lewis she was proud of her taking the initiative for the campaign and praised her as a young leader in the community, which the Boys & Girls Clubs likes to see.
"We like to see young people that take that leadership role," Latisha Joseph said.
During Wednesday's meeting, Latisha Joseph and Lewis went over some of the details of organizing a Teen Night for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington.
Latisha Joseph has been in contact with Allen Theaters to help Lewis get tickets for teens.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington has to get approval to host the event, since the film is rated beyond PG, and then obtain permission slips from parents.
Once all the logistics are finished, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington will take teens to a screening of "Black Panther" at the Allen 8 movie theater on East 20th Street.
If the money raised by Lewis isn't used entirely by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington, Lewis and Latisha Joseph plan to reach out to other youth organizations in San Juan County to help teens see "Black Panther."
"We want to make sure the whole community has an opportunity to take advantage of this amazing thing (Lewis) did," Latisha Joseph said.
Lewis said she is happy to provide an opportunity for teens to see a positive representation of people of color at the cinema.
"That's something I wish I could have seen when I was younger," Lewis said.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.