Howard University law students took a break from the books last week for a special opening-night screening of comic book flick “Black Panther.”
The law school on Feb. 16 rented out a nearby movie theater to host students, faculty, staff and alumni for the hotly anticipated film, the first major movie to feature a black super hero.
The idea for a private “Black Panther” screening came from Student Bar Association President Logan Patmon, said dean Danielle Holley-Walker. The SBA co-hosted the event with Georgetown University Law Center’s Black Law Student’s Association along with Howard’s Office of Student Affairs. It cost the school about $3,000.
“They had this idea that it would be really fun for the law school as a community to go see ‘Black Panther,’” Holley-Walker said. “Everyone was talking about the movie, and we worried that it would be sold out on opening weekend.”
The film also has a Howard connection: Chadwick Boseman, who plays the titular “Black Panther,” graduated from the Washington, D.C., university in 2000 with a degree in fine arts. (Boseman also played former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in last year’s biopic “Marshall.”)
About 375 people attended the law school’s screening. Some dressed in costumes to reflect the move’s fictional African nation of Wakanda, while others dressed as members of the Black Panthers Party from the 1960s. They held a costume contest and trivia contest before the movie.
“It was a really fun event,” Holley-Walker said. “I loved the idea of doing this as the entire law school community.”
Howard is one of six law schools housed at historically black colleges and universities. According to the most recent data from the American Bar Association, 81 percent of the law school’s students are black.
“Black Panther” was co-created by Stan Lee, the creative force behind “Spiderman,” in the late 1960s after the Black Panther Party had been established.
“He was invented partly to be a counternarrative to depictions and negative stereotypes about Africans and African-Americans,” Holley-Walker said. “There was also that political connection between the comic book and what was happening in real life in the United States. Because of that, Black Panther has always been a cult hero for people of African descent.”
Holley-Walker said she particularly enjoyed the movie’s female-centric nation of Wakanda, an African utopia where women largely run the show.
“It was amazing,” said Holley-Walker, adding that the sets, the costumes, and the action sequences were top-notch. “It also had a good storyline.”
America’s moviegoers would seem to agree. “Black Panther” had the second-largest four-day weekend opening on record, earning $241.6 million at the box office.