The 'Black Panther Challenge' Comes To Newport

Feb 22, 2018

The film “Black Panther” is breaking records at the box office, thanks in part to fans excited to see a black superhero take center stage. And there’s a local effort underway to bring hundreds of Newport schoolchildren to see the movie.

Heralded for its depictions of Africa, black characters, and strong women, the movie inspired Newport resident Niko Merritt to launch an online fundraising campaign to bring middle school students to see it. 

“A lot of movies that have people of color, we’re portrayed in a negative light, or doing illegal activities or criminal or something harmful,” said Merritt, who runs an afterschool program at Newport’s Thompson Middle School. “This movie is portraying people in leadership positions.”

Merritt said her campaign has raised enough money to bring nearly 200 students to see the movie so far. She’s asking the students to write a short paragraph explaining why they should be selected.

A local bus company has donated its services for transportation. Merritt said she plans to take the group over the weekend.