By Darlene Donloe
BALDWIN HILLS — It was the perfect night for a drive-in movie evidenced by the throngs of cars that packed the parking lot of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Sept. 26 to watch a free screening of “Black Panther.”
The event, hosted by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, was a special COVID-19 Drive-In At The Park Movie Night screening in memory of the late actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died Aug. 28 at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.
“We are here in unity to celebrate the ‘Black Panther,’” said Ridley-Thomas, who is termed out this year and seeking to represent the 10th District on the Los Angeles City Council. “We are saying to the community, we know this has been a harsh past seven-plus months. We’re here to support you and embrace you and have a family-filled good time tonight. We’re seeing a movie that is quickly moving to iconic status.”
Asked why he wanted to honor Boseman, Ridley-Thomas said, “This is in memory of Chadwick Boseman because of all that he stood for and for the message that comes through in the movie. We need to do all that we can to lift each other up and practice resilience. I’m proud to sponsor this event.”
As Ridley-Thomas watched a caravan of cars enter the parking lot, he was reminded that for some, it would be their first drive-in experience.
“For some, attending this family-friendly event, is the first time they’ve experienced a drive-in,” said Ridley-Thomas, who added before he started hosting the events, he hadn’t been to a drive-in since the 1970s. “This is a maiden voyage for some. We’re turning lemons into lemonade at the Baldwin Hills Plaza tonight.”
Ridley-Thomas who admits to seeing the movie five times said it “was inspirational.”
“It was an experience that pointed in the direction of hope, self-determination and empowerment,” said Ridley-Thomas. “It spoke to the future. It put Africans and African Americans squarely in the future in a powerful way.”
Jesse and Michelle Holloway, brought their son, Elijah, a third-grader, to the drive-in. The family has also attended previous drive-in screenings sponsored by L.A. County and hosted by Ridley-Thomas.
Asked if he likes “Black Panther,” Elijah said, “Yes, I like the action.”
“We are very family-oriented and active in the community,” said Michelle Holloway, who grew up in Texas. “We’re always looking for an opportunity to spend quality time and get off the screen, off the computers, off the games. This is what I used to love growing up. This reminds me of my childhood. It’s kind of nostalgic.”
“It’s great to get out of the house and get some fresh air and be with the people,” said Jesse Holloway. “It’s been an adjustment, but this gets us back to our roots.”
“Black Panther” was the third special family-friendly COVID-19 Drive-In At The Park Movie Night screening hosted by Ridley-Thomas. The first two film screenings were “Cool Runnings” at Exposition Park and “Sister Act” at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
Two upcoming free screenings include “Remember the Titans,” which will be presented in Kenneth Hahn Park and ‘Moana’ at Magic Johnson Park.
Complimentary OZO sliders, candy, and popcorn were provided to attendees.
“We were thrilled to be able to do this for the community,” said Voncella Mcintosh, who works in the marketing and events department at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. “We were more than happy to have an event like this for the local community.
“With everything going on and us not being able to do our typical event programming that we do throughout the year, we’re glad to be able to do something that is safe and fun for the community. ‘Black Panther’ is a perfect choice for this neighborhood, for this community. I think everyone appreciates the movie and appreciates Chadwick’s work in the film.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.