The University of Richmond rented out a theater at Bowtie Cinemas on Thursday, Feb. 22 to show nearly 300 students, faculty and staff a free, private screening of “Black Panther."
UR's Office of Multicultural Affairs coordinated the film screening, which was part of UR's observance of Black History Month.
This year’s theme was “heroic action,” and members of the committee that planned programming for Black History Month said it had seemed natural to incorporate Marvel Studios’ latest superhero movie about a costumed hero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
“It was our intention to use this collaborative viewing as a vehicle to illuminate the message of solidarity, inclusion and cohesion, under the umbrella of a ‘One Richmond’ cultural immersion experience,” Chantelle Bernard, associate director of multicultural affairs and disability services, said in an email interview.
Michael Johnson, junior, said in an email interview that UR's Black History Month planning committee had begun coordinating with the OMA to make the screening a reality in October. Johnson serves as the budget and social media coordinator for the OMA.
“It took a lot of coordination with OMA and other departments in terms of funding, getting the word out and making sure we had enough student, faculty and staff engagement to pull it off,” Johnson said.
The planning committee, which Bernard chaired and Johnson served on, paid for the tickets and the theater partially using the duPont Fund, money set aside by UR to fund students who attend cultural events. The duPont Fund, along with money from OMA, allowed hundreds of attendees to see the film completely free of charge.
“We ended up filling a theater of 298 people,” Bernard said. “We had no tickets left over.”
Those interested in attending could claim tickets online at Eventbrite in the days leading up to the screening. Johnson oversaw the event’s advertising and the dispersal of tickets to the UR community.
“Students alone got 230 of those tickets, and then the rest were some faculty and staff who played a pretty integral role in making the screening happen,” Johnson said.
On the day of the screening, UR provided transportation to Bowtie Cinemas from the Transportation Hub. In place of previews for other movies before Black Panther began rolling, OMA coordinated the screening of videos featuring UR students attending other Black History Month events, Bernard said.
Featured in these videos included a performance by Ngoma African Dance Company and a poetry recitation by junior Jacob Roberson.
“It displayed all the work and all the commitments and hard work of students, especially within the black community, and of people of color in general,” Johnson said. “It was good for the student body to see that.”
Both Bernard and Johnson agreed that the screening went exceptionally well.
“It brought us closer together because we were all in one space,” Johnson said. "And with all the reactions during the movie — it was a special environment, and I don’t think you would get that anywhere else.”
The screening reminded her of a familial experience, Bernard said.
“It was really the experience of going to the movies with three hundred of my closest family,” she said. “It completely exceeded my expectations.”
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