Cleveland organization treats 450 students to 'Black Panther' viewing

More than 450 students will be treated to a special screening of the new film.

Thanks to The Real Black Friday and its co-sponsors, more than 450 Greater Cleveland high school students will be treated to a special screening of Marvel’s “Black Panther” on Feb. 21 at Shaker Square Cinemas.

More than a movie screening, the event will also be a chance for students to interact with dozens of local entrepreneurs and engage with motivational speakers, said organizer LaRese Purnell, founder of The Real Black Friday, an organization that promotes awareness of black-owned businesses.

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As they arrive, the students will be “clapped in” to the theaters by a crowd of local professionals and business leaders, including WKYC anchor Russ Mitchell and WKYC reporter/We The People host Tiffany Tarpley. Purnell hopes it will be “an experience our youth will never forget.”

The students and their chaperones are from eight different high schools in Greater Cleveland and will also receive gift bags and special, surprise T-shirts, and a snack pack that, of course, will include popcorn for the viewing.

“This is my fourth time doing this – taking kids to the movies,” Purnell said. “It gives them an opportunity to celebrate as young kids and allows local entrepreneurs to invest back into our community. The entrepreneurs and sponsors help to fund it and they are present throughout the event. They speak to the youths…words of encouragement.”

Purnell continued, “It’s a motivational and educational experience. We use four different theaters and I divvy up the entrepreneurs and each has a variety of speakers. I think that we spend a lot of time talking about the negative things our youth do and not enough time celebrating the greatness of our youth.

“It’s Black History Month and Black History Month is about education in an innovative way. Taking them to see a movie, young people from all backgrounds, it’s an opportunity for us and an opportunity for them.”