‘Black Panther’ actor gives back to South Carolina students

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An actor from the record-breaking Marvel film “Black Panther” visited students at Greenville County schools on Friday.

On Track Greenville hosted Cyrus Birch III. The actor who played a Jabari warrior in the film spoke to students at Tanglewood Middle School, Lakeview Middle School, Greenville Early College, and Berea Middle School. 

Birch, who’s a Charleston native and Spartanburg Methodist College graduate is now the executive director of Roses in Concrete which helps underserved youth. 

“My whole life has been a life of service to the at-risk population, and I’m very grateful to be able to do so,” Birch said. 

Right before he was part of the box-office hit, Birch spent a decade as a dropout-prevention specialist in the Low Country. 

“They saw me before all of this, so to them I am a walking representation of a dream being formulated into reality,” Birch said about the students he helped before. 

However, the success of the movie has allowed his platform to expand and has given him the ability to help more students. 

“This is more rewarding for me, in the sense of, I see myself in the youth that I’m servicing because I remember when I was at-risk, and I needed mentorship,” Birch said. 

At his visit to Greenville Early College, he spoke to more than 150 students about his upbringing and choices he made. He says he didn’t grow up with a lot and was tempted into selling drugs. However, he says his decision to say ‘no’ is what changed his life, especially when the friend who made the other choice wound up dead at a young age.

Birch says out of everything he talked about he hopes the students take away the importance of decision-making and choices which students say stuck with them. 

“Don’t let anyone try to make you do something that you don’t want to do for you to be successful,” Greenville Early College 8th grader, Jaurne Gatewood said. 

Birch was recognized by state lawmakers last month for using his platform to help young people find their purpose. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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