RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Black Panther is Marvel Comic’s first black superhero, and next week the character will make it’s highly anticipated cinematic debut.

For many, it’s much more than a movie. It’s a chance for kids of color to see a hero that looks like them enter Marvel’s movie universe.

“These kids instead of seeing people of their color portrayed in the light as a gangster, or a drug dealer, or a criminal they actually get to see them be a superhero,” said community activist Lance Cooper.

It was recently that Cooper saw friend and fellow activist Frederick Joseph on The Ellen Show. Joseph had raised over $40,000 to take kids in Harlem to see the movie.

“So they can see themselves in this story and see a black king in Africa,” Joseph said.

He also came up with the Black Panther Challenge, urging people across the country to do the same.

“He challenged a lot of other activists to get involved. I accepted his challenge,” Cooper explained.

So, Cooper got to work. He even got an endorsement on Twitter from Chelsea Clinton. Wednesday he surpassed his goal raising more than $5,000 to take 500 underprivileged Richmond kids to see Black Panther. It’s an opportunity Cooper says he didn’t get growing up.

“It was Superman, Batman, the Incredible Hulk. There was no black superhero,” said Cooper.

He says the movie is much more than entertainment. It’s an opportunity to unlock a child’s inner superhero.

“Every youth in this city has magic and it’s up to us to make them embrace that magic.”

Cooper says all of the extra donations will go toward some of the local youth clubs in the Richmond area. If you would like to donate, click here.

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