“Wakanda Forever” is more than just a Black Panther catchphrase—its a symbol of the movie’s impact on millions of people. The groundbreaking Marvel film inspires a lot of cosplay, art, and other creative celebrations by fans who felt seen through characters like T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia. Now, a youth group is coming together to put on a Black Panther theater performance to wrap up Black History Month. According to WHYY, The Power Within: Black Panther the Musical is the creation of Faith In Action, a Willingboro, New Jersey, based youth support ministry.
The organization was founded by Amy Dean in 1994 to provide youth with mentors, education resources, and HIV/AIDS prevention, and healthy outlets like performing arts. Dean brings together groups of teens and young adults each year to put on several productions and takes a traveling team of creatives to nearby schools and churches to combat against bullying and drugs.
The Power Within: Black Panther the Musical is their latest effort to give youth an outlet to express themselves and build a positive self-image. Dean wrote a few inspirational songs based on themes in Black Panther, including a tune about not hiding in your own shadow. One actor, Emmanuel Tucker, spoke further with WHYY about what it means to come out out of a shadow and live a purposeful life.
“The songs are about coming out of the shadows, not hiding behind shadows. Coming out as your true self. Don’t let your culture hold you back, but use your culture to define who you really are.”
Black Panther the Musical features both high school students from the Willlingboro area as well as graduates who have come back to participate. The community’s leaders and officials will also appear onstage for one act to show solidarity and support. Dean spoke to WHYY about this moment and said it is all about family. “It’s called ‘One Single Tribe.’ They will all come in and stand on stage and be the village,” Dean said. “It makes all of us a family. The responsibility is not just for the teachers, not just for the parents, it becomes for the community as well.”
Like the film, this musical will explore the peaceful mindset of T’Challa vs. the violence that Killmonger wanted to use in his plans to liberate people. Both of them had valid points, but neither on them were quite on the right track of how to go about making it happen. In the end, it was Nakia who ultimately ended up being right in the film and maybe this will be shown in this theater production too.
The Power Within: Black Panther the Musical will make its debut on February 28 at 7 p.m. ET at the Willingboro High School auditorium. The production is one-weekend only with follow up performances on February 29 and March 1. Hopefully, this musical will inspire not only the people in the room but others who want to honor the film in their own unique ways.
It’s an uplifting and powerful way to show how fictional heroes have a real-life impact on the next generation of creatives.
Header Image: WHYY