DALLAS – Harrison Barnes struck another socially conscious chord Monday night when the Dallas Mavericks’ forward paid for 150 kids to watch Hollywood’s hottest chic movie, “Black Panther,” at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas.
The superhero film is the first of the Marvel Comics series that features a predominantly African-American cast and an African-American director, and has been steadily smashing box office records. Meanwhile, Barnes wanted to make sure he did his part in helping some disadvantage kids be able to watch a movie that has created so much buzz around the world.
“I was excited to see the movie myself,” Barnes said. “But I think the opportunity to have these kids see a movie like this – a movie about a super hero from Africa – to just celebrate all different levels of blackness I think is really unique.
“To have the opportunity to be able to do this, I was going to go see it anyway. So why not invite 100 kids, get a theater and we can all watch it together.”
It’s the second time since the 2017-18 basketball season started that Barnes has invited a group of kids to see a socially conscious movie. Late last year the six-year veteran paid for over 150 kids to see the screening of the movie, Marshall, which depicted the life of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
Kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas, the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, the Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership Academy and the After School All-Stars of North Texas were the recipients of Barnes’ latest gift. And they were definitely extremely happy for his kind gesture.
“I thought it was nice of Mr. Barnes to do that so we could watch the movie,” said Malik Hickman, a 10-year old from the Dunbar Boys and Girls Club. “Some kids probably couldn’t afford it, so I thank him. He’s really cool.”
Rachel Ellis, a 12-year-old from the Oak Cliff Boys and Girls Club, made it a point to personally thank Barnes for her being able to witness a movie that’s the talk around thousands of water coolers.
“I was very grateful when I found out he did it,” Ellis said. “It showed a great sense of community.”
Barnes joins actress Octavia Spencer and tennis superstar Serena Williams among those who paid for over 100 kids to see Black Panther. And like other movie-goers, Barnes even showed up wearing African attire.
“As you can see I’m wearing a shirt that I got from a friend from Ghana,” Barnes said. “A lot of people are dressing up to go to the movies.
“People are buying (tickets for others to see Black Panther) and trying to make sure as many people as they can will see it. I think it’s become more than just a movie. It’s more of a movement. Celebrate diversity, and hopefully if this does well, then you’ll see more movies like this.”
Mavs proprietor Mark Cuban was beaming with pride when discussing what Barnes was able to accomplish on Monday.
“What you do on the court is one thing, but what you do in the community and off the court says a whole lot more about who you are,” Cuban said. “Harrison always goes out of his way to put together socially conscious movies and involve the Boys and Girls Club to go visit them — always with the emphasis and the priority of education and achievement.
“Really, what you do on the court is one thing, but you find out really who somebody is by what they do off the court and in the community. That’s the true making of a star, and Harrison is a star.”
Barnes’ star sure is shining bright these days.
“People talk about should athletes be role models,” Cuban said. “Sometimes you can’t shut up and dribble. Sometimes you want to go out there and have an impact, and the only time you couldn’t have an impact is if you don’t shut up.
“And when you’re done dribbling, if you go out to the community and lead by example and involve people and create opportunities that allow them to have confidence in their future to have dreams and goals, and Harrison not only sets an example, but he propels kids towards those goals. When the dribbling stops, that’s when your voice really matters, and fortunately Harrison is not somebody who shuts up. Harrison speaks up, and that’s critical in our community.”
Ever since he heard the excitement surrounding Black Panther, Daunte Daniels was anxious about going to see what all the fuss was about.
“The movie was very good,” said Daniels, a 17-year old from the Richardson Boys and Girls Club. “It showed a lot of black culture and how we all should get along.
“The fact that (the main character in the movie) got his butt kicked, then got saved by somebody that wasn’t even supposed to be a part of the tribe anymore, and then to show the respect and save him and come back and whip the other dude, that was great.”
Shakerria West, an 18-year old from the Cedar Springs Boys and Girls Club, was overly impressed with all the African-American females who played strong pivotal roles in the movie.
“You know how in different movies how they have a King, and behind him the people who protect him are really men?,” West asked. “In this movie it was women. There were no men trying to protect him. That was crazy!
“I was like: It’s women? Where are the men? There are no men protecting him? What? That’s what made me feel like women are as strong and equal as men, because we can do the same thing men can do.”
Barnes marveled at the educational messages the writers and directors conveyed in the movie. And he was glad be brought along the kids so they could see and hear those subliminal messages.
“Usually when you see superhero movies it’s just about the male heroes,” Barnes said. “But it was a lot of strong predominantly black women that really carried that movie.
“I think that’s what put it over the top. They each had a story and they each brought something different to it, so it was great for me to see.”
Barnes gave the movie two thumbs up for several other reasons.
“Just to be able to showcase strong black characters – and talking about Africa – and strong black men and women, I think that’s unique,” he said. “It was a great film, I thought the kids loved I, and I loved it.”
Cuban loves how Barnes is always tuned in and thinking about how he can give back to the community — be it in a big or small way. Taking the kids to see Black Panther was just Exhibit A.
“Harrison walks the walk and talks the talk,” Cuban said. “He goes out and he meets with kids, he’s not about let’s bring the PR, let’s bring the press. He goes out and does it and he lives it.
“And when you talk to him, that’s what he wants to talk about. It’s not, ‘OK, what I do in this game, what I do in that game.’ It’s more, ‘What are we doing, how can we be socially conscious, what books are we reading, how can I have an impact?’
“I’ll keep on saying it again: Dribble and speak up is the best thing a player can do. I’m glad that Harrison is somebody who can not only dribble obviously, but does a helluva job speaking up.’’
Those 150 kids who got to see a movie they may not have otherwise seen are also glad Barnes spoke up and decided to invite them to a night at the theater that they’ll forever cherish.
Mario Panuco, a nine-year old from Williams Prep Boys and Girls Club, couldn’t wait to pay tribute to Barnes.
“I wanted to tell him thank you for paying for the movie,” Panuco said. “And he’s a good basketball player.”