UT students to celebrate Black Panther premiere followed by Black Empowerment Week

Brianna Stone

Students are coming together to support the premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” movie, followed by a week dedicated to celebrating blackness and honoring Black History Month.

Black Empowerment Week, a week of events hosted on campus by various black student organizations, kicks off Saturday and ends Friday, Feb. 23. It is preceded by the premiere of “Black Panther,” for which a student, Christopher Plummer, rented out a movie theater for students to be able to experience the
movie together.

Plummer, government junior, rented out the theater at the Galaxy Highland 10 for tonight and planned a night of “Black Panther” celebration for UT students. Tickets quickly sold out, with an expected 293 students to fill the theater Friday evening.

“This movie is big on an international scale because it’s the first black superhero who is on this big of a pedestal,” Plummer said. “Marvel is a pretty big pedestal. The director is black, most of the main cast is black, Kendrick (Lamar) made (the) whole album as the soundtrack. (The movie) appreciates African culture.”

Plummer said there will be a social before the movie, a red carpet, a photographer after the movie and an after party.

“This movie is actually representing us,” Plummer said. “This movie signifies unity for the
black community.”

The week occurs every February in honor of Black History Month. Some of the hosting organizations include the Multicultural Engagement Center, Afrikan American Affairs, Black Student Alliance, African Student Organization, Umoja, UT-Austin NAACP and more. Events begin with a community service event Saturday at the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center. Other events include a health seminar, game night, hair convention, food cook–off and movie night.

“(The overall purpose of the week) is to learn more and be more appreciative about our black culture,” said Dayjah Harris, marketing junior and Umoja president. “We go to a (predominantly white institution), so we don’t get to see our black culture a lot. We only get to see it through each other and through the black organizations we are part of.”

Harris said students will be able to learn from the events and feel at home. All events are inclusive and the hope is for all students, black and non-black, to learn more about the black community, Harris said.

“There’s always more that can be done,” Harris said. “During Black History Month, a lot of UT accounts have been tweeting cool facts about black history, but I feel like it needs to be bigger than just social media. The impact needs to be a lot better than that. UT as a whole should have a black history event.”

Mickelyn Washington, president of the UT Student Circle of the Association of Black Psychologists, said the week will also allow a discussion about mental health within the community. 

“It’s a week to celebrate blackness and empower those individuals in the black community to embrace themselves and their blackness,” said Washington, a sociology and African diaspora studies senior.