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‘Straight love’ drives parents, students to ‘Black Panther’ showing

by Lee R. Watkins
Special to The New Tri-State Defender

The international flow of moviegoers checking out “Black Panther” continued last weekend and in Memphis students and parents flocked to the Malco Paradiso to watch the superhero film on Saturday.

Shelby County Schools purchased 2,000 tickets for a private screening for students and families. Attendees enjoyed free refreshments and were greeted by actor Hasaan Rasheed (king’s warrior in “Black Panther”).  Doors opened at 8 a.m. and participants were asked to arrive 30 minutes early prior to show times.  Tickets were available to the public via online registration.

John Best, Broadcast Operations Advisor Shelby County Schools (88.5FM & C19TV), spearheaded the event and said he was excited to be apart of the family environment.

“I’m blown beyond expectations,” Best said.  “People were coming out and it wasn’t any arguing, it was straight love.”

Rasheed, 29, Dallas, Texas, appears in five scenes throughout “Black Panther.”  He’s a member of the royal guard supporting T’Challa, aka the Black Panther.  He spent about six months on set in Atlanta.  Rasheed has multiple jobs with the Memphis Grizzlies including “Kings of the Court” and contracting as a fitness trainer with Grizz Girls dance team.  He’s also the owner of Total Fitness Body Training, in Little Rock, Arkansas.  “Black Panther” was Rasheed’s first movie, and he admits that it was special to be apart of history.

“I enjoyed spending time with everybody, getting to know everybody personalities,” Rasheed said.  “I felt apart of history, that was big…I was able to utilize my fitness in action on the set, that made it even better.”

LyRikal Jenkins, 17, Senior, Overton High School, said she felt empowered by the prominent roles given to the female characters in the film.

“The female role models in the movie made it seem as though females are more empowered to do things that they set their minds to,” Jenkins said.  “It makes me feel like whatever I put my mind to, I can achieve my goals.”

Several SCS teachers searched for ways to implement narratives from the film to implore in their daily teaching methods.

“I can show clips from the movie to inspire them to do better,” said Carolyn Crayton-Matthews, U.S History teacher, Booker T. Washington High School.  “I can find motivational clips to put in my PowerPoint slides.  It gives them so much more to be inspired by.”

Most students were inspired by the film, but other said that the movie didn’t change their perceptions on how they view the black community.

“It didn’t change my opinion on how they are viewed, because I always knew black people could do good things before the movie,” said Anthony Bowen, 8, Sea Isle Elementary School.

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