Black Panther may be rocking the box office, but one of its characters aims to rock the minds of its younger audience members. Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the tech-savvy black princess running the film — and now Disney is trying to translate her popularity and mission to the real world.
Disney announced Monday that, in celebration of Black Panther’s success, the company is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, specifically to build new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) centers in Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Harlem, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Oakland, California; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and Watts, California.
These communities — especially Oakland, which is a plot-relevant setting in Black Panther and one personally close to writer/director Ryan Coogler — will receive STEM Centers of Innovation that will enable local kids to develop the high-tech skills they see Shuri implement in the Marvel film. These centers will include “3-D printers, robotics, high-definition video production and conferencing equipment” for its kids to use under the guidance of “a fully dedicated STEM expert” offering individual and group support.
"It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film,” said Disney CEO Robert Iger in a statement. “It’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want."
Even before it opened, Black Panther already proved to be a massive cultural force, steering the national conversation as it broke ground for African-American storytelling onscreen, and within the superhero genre. The film also continues to break records: It's now racked up $700 million worldwide in just two weeks, notching the second-biggest sophomore weekend box-office haul of all time, just behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.