New Black Panther movie inspiring African-American children in Waterbury

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The special effects of the new “Black Panther” movie may last a lot longer than the film itself. Hollywood’s first film featuring an African-American superhero and all African-American cast has local African-American children — and adults — beaming with pride.

“It’s monumental,” said Erika Cooper. She started a program in Waterbury that empowers African-American and minority youth to grow up and be leaders and heroes in the community. The teens she works with are more than excited for the new film. For them, it goes deeper than that.

“This movie is showing all the good things we can do,” said Sha’nia Cooper.

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“Just seeing an all African-American cast means that we’re moving up in the world,” said Amari Brantley.

That positive self-identification could leave powerful images that translate into a positive sense of self. Many in the African-American community say that’s refreshing, given the characters and roles they usually see African-Americans portraying.

“You see them as horrible, horrific people,” Amari said.

Related Content: ‘Black Panther’ is outselling every previous superhero film in advance ticket sale

“Black Panther” changes that. And some say if it’s a box office hit, the superhero movie could be a game changer when it comes to minorities gaining newfound strength in Hollywood.

“It’s going to open the way for more actors, more directors of color and definitely for more movies and other types of art to focus on communities that — up until now — have largely been ignored,” said James R. Whitley, J.D. of Post University in Waterbury.

“I hope that it empowers them, gives them the voice that they fight for that we’ve been fighting for, and it takes them to their wildest dreams,” Erika said.

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