The Office of Student Life teamed up with Umoja and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services to host a free student screening of “Black Panther” Feb. 15, with Los Medanos College students lined up outside Maya Cinemas to secure their seats. Between the film’s rave reviews and the uniqueness of its predominantly black cast and African setting, the assembled students were extremely excited.
“I am exhilarated to be here to see ‘Black Panther’,” said LMC student Jacob Poti. “Not only did it receive a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but the movie is completely diverse… That’s what I love about Marvel Studios, they give every superhero… a chance to shine.”
“Marvel is one of the biggest movie companies right now,” observed Daisy Poblano, also a student. “Whenever they come out with a new movie, everyone’s super excited. So the fact that they’re having a predominantly black cast is super exciting… Everyone’s talking about it.”
“It takes place in Africa, I’m a first generation immigrant out of West Africa, so that’s really important to me,” student Akila Briggs commented. “And for me, it’s the first step towards having awesome role models for younger African-American audiences.”
“I’m very excited to see a superhero movie with a lot of African-American representation in it,” student Heavenly Prater stated. “I’m also really excited to see Chadwick Boseman.”
That excitement carried over into the theater itself – the entire audience erupted in cheers when the first title card appeared, showing “Oakland, CA” as a major location, and that tone continued throughout the rest of the screening.
The LMC Black History Month planning committee, which has been scheduling events for the month since last year according to Director of Student Life Teresa Archaga, proposed the screening.
“Student Life has hosted many movies in the past,” Umoja Scholars Program Coordinator Jamila Stewart commented. “The inspiration behind showing this particular film is to honor Black History Month by showing… a movie about the first black super hero in mainstream comics… with a predominantly black cast.”
“The Black History Month planning committee met and agreed it would be a good opportunity for LMC students and staff. Teresa Arhcaga contacted Maya Cinemas and paid to host a screening the night before the official release date,” Stewart said.
Archaga mentioned that Maya gave them a set of possible dates and times, and Thursday, Feb. 15 was eventually settled on as it was a Thursday before a holiday and thus, the greatest amount of students would be able to attend. Archaga also mentioned that registration, which was done via an online link posted on a Student Life flyer, was completely filled within hours of going live, and 90 percent of registrants were students, with the rest being staff and faculty.
“I don’t know how that marketing strategy worked, but it did… I’m just really excited to watch a movie with everyone and get their thoughts on it after,” she said.
“’Black Panther’ is a long time coming,” observed Steven Freeman, Assistant Director of EOPS, who set up the online registration, praising that it “provides a superhero that young African-American children can actually look up to.”
“It’s been a very long time since a movie has generated this much buzz,” he also stated, saying that whenever there’s a huge hub of student energy, it’s important to him that EOPS can “get behind that.”