Families experience superhero world of 'Black Panther'

- The spectacle of early 'Black Panther' trailers attracted the attention of Sharon Hayes months before the superhero film's release.

"The car-race scene drew me in," she said.

Hayes and her daughter, Lauryn, watched the movie together on Saturday, as part of the 'Black Panther' Tampa program. It's giving minority youths a chance to see the film for free.

The program, powered by crowdfunding and help from some big names like WWE wrestler Titus O'Neil and Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, paid for 2,000 Bay Area kids to see the film.

"It's incredibly important for kids of color to see that representation on screen, and when they see that representation on screen, they're able to reflect and say, 'Oh, if I can see someone who looks like me as a superhero, I know I can be a superhero'. The message we want to spread is that you can be a superhero in your own community," organizer Joy McDowell said.

That's just one of the many messages received by the Hayes family. Sharon Hayes liked the sense of family and togetherness featured in the film. She also liked how African culture was celebrated on screen and how the women were portrayed as strong, independent characters.

Lauryn Hayes gravitated to one of the younger women that showed off her mind. Actress Letitia Wright plays Shuri, the 16-year-old younger sister of Black Panther.

She's the one building and creating much of the technology used by her older brother. Lauryn Hayes attends Tampa Bay Tech and is also 16.

"The reaction at my school is that most of the of the girls try to be like the little sister. They say they're going to get back on their game, try to be exactly like her and try to do what she does and get into technology," Lauryn Hayes said. "It feels great. It empowers young women at this age, makes me feel like I can do better and I can be better than what people think I won't be."

As a parent, that thought is music to ears of Sharon Hayes.

"Sitting there watching it with my daughter was awesome to see because I saw the encouragement coming from her face," she offered.

Sharon Hayes is excited for the inevitable sequel, and hopes Hollywood takes notice of the film's mostly minority cast and its African-American director, Ryan Coogler. Based on the box office numbers and the critical reaction, the Hayes family has nothing to worry about.

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