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Here's why Viola Davis, J.J. Abrams and more are raising money for kids to see 'Black Panther'

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To date, more than $300,000 has been raised to send thousands of kids around the country to see ''The Black Panther,'' thanks to the #BlackPantherChallenge. (Marvel)

When Black Panther opens this weekend, thousands of children will be seeing it for free.

It's all because of the #BlackPantherChallenge. It was started in January by Frederick Joseph, whose original goal was to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem to send hundreds of kids to the film.

"Visibility and representation must mean showing the losses and the wins, the bad and the good, and, most importantly, blackness existing in all spaces, real and fantasy," Joseph wrote in a HuffPost editorial. "This is why Black Panther is so important, and why I began the Black Panther Challenge."

The challenge spread, catching the attention of several celebrities including Viola Davis, Chelsea Clinton, J.J. Abrams and Snoop Dogg.


"Our friends at @CapCityBFF have accepted the @theheavierthings' @gofundme #blackpantherchallenge to send 200 youth in #Austin to see @blackpanther. Let's make this happen! Shout out to #ryancoogler @chadwickboseman @lupitanyongo @michaelbjordan @im.angelabassett @sterlingkbrown @MarvelStudios," Davis wrote.


Even movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes has weighed in about the challenge, saying it highlights how important the film is culturally.

"Marvel's Black Panther was always going to be a cultural phenomenon. As the first big-budget blockbuster in some time to feature not only a black superhero lead, but also a primarily black ensemble cast of characters, the movie broke early ticket sales records and has inspired thoughtful discussions everywhere about the importance of representation in media," reads a blog post by the site's staff.

To date, more than $300,000 has been raised to send thousands of kids to see the movie. There are hundreds of GoFundMe campaigns in all 50 states and 30 countries.

At the end of the day, Joseph said, the challenge is really about making kids smile.

"I challenge you to do something bigger than yourself," Joseph wrote. "I challenge you to make a difference. We all deserve to smile."

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of Marvel Studios and this station.
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entertainmentmarvelsuperheroesmoviemovie newsu.s. & worldfeel goodfundraiser