When the original “Black Panther” movie opened in theaters in 2018, it was greeted rapturously by those who love great superhero movies — and, particularly, by Black moviegoers thrilled to see a megabudget adventure set in a never-colonized fictional African nation, directed by a Black filmmaker and featuring an almost entirely Black cast. Community screenings, many of them free so everyone could join the celebration, sprang up all over Seattle. Now, with the Thursday arrival of the sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” there’s again a sense of breathless anticipation, with everything from free screenings for families to a very glam downtown celebration.

For Jazmin Williams, who runs the Burien-based doula support agency BLKBRY, organizing community screenings of “Wakanda Forever” felt like an extension of what she does in her work. “I’m all about creating spaces for Black families and other BIPOC families,” she said, referring to Black, Indigenous and people of color. She’d never organized a movie screening before, but remembered attending the first movie with her child and being moved by the representation she saw on screen. It seemed important, she said, to “make sure that our children are being able to see themselves represented in such a beautiful, positive way.”

Partnering with the nonprofit Alimentando al Pueblo (a local Latino food bank and community center), and the Ark Lodge Cinemas in Columbia City, Williams booked two auditoriums for the film’s opening weekend, for four screenings hosting a total of 400 children and parents. Tickets were offered for free to various community groups, and disappeared “in no time,” she said. “I’m so excited we’re able to do this for our community.”

Ashanti Mayfield, owner of the Creamy Cone Café (a few miles down Rainier Avenue from the Ark Lodge) is adding a sweet treat to the weekend, with assistance from the Black Perinatal Project. Everyone attending these special Ark Lodge screenings will get a voucher for a free scoop of ice cream from her shop — one of two special “Black Panther” flavors: Blackberry Cheesecake and Black Madagascar Vanilla. The latter, she said, came from an interest in learning more about African flavors; Madagascar vanilla “isn’t too out of my comfort zone, but it did open the door for me to do research into the continent and what kinds of flavors they’re inspired by.”

Both “Black Panther” flavors will be available for purchase in the shop throughout the film’s opening weekend, while supplies last. (Takeout pints are available, if it’s too cold to eat an ice cream cone on the sidewalk.) If customers like the flavors, Mayfield said, “they might become part of our regular rotation.”

The Ark Lodge is also hosting screenings presented by various local schools, including one from Seattle Public Schools’ Office of African American Male Achievement. About 100 students will attend the screening on Friday as part of the Kingmakers of Seattle program, which supports the cultural, historical, social and emotional needs of Black male students in middle and high school.


And for those looking to celebrate “Wakanda Forever” in style, the WOW (Wonder of Women) Gallery in Pacific Place in downtown Seattle is hosting a gala opening-night party Friday, the official opening day. Guests will attend a private screening, then proceed downstairs to the gallery for an evening of African-inspired food, drink, music and mingling, with everyone encouraged to wear their best Wakanda-style finery. The evening will also include the unveiling of a new portrait of the late DeCharlene Williams, a longtime Central Area business owner and pillar of the local Black community, painted by local artist Hiawatha D.

Like Jazmin Williams, WOW founder Veronica Very felt that the movie really spoke to the heart of her work, “which is creating sacred space that helps us to remember who we are as a people.” She remembered being dazzled by the first film, and feeling “a sense of pride in that memory, remembering our country of origin, our African heritage.”

Floret Khosa, a local human resources consultant who is helping Very plan the event, said they began discussions for the gala “from the minute we saw the first trailer!” It felt important, she said, to gather community together, as they had done for a screening of “The Woman King” earlier this fall. “There’s just something about having that electrifying experience of watching the movie and bringing it into this wonderful space and creating something wonderful out of that. You’ve got to put all that excitement somewhere.”