The August 27th release of Candyman directed and co-written by Nia DaCosta, is a fresh take on the blood-chilling urban legend that caused many of us to lose sleep. In the new film, the spectre of Candyman, an avenging soul with a hook for a hand who takes out anyone who dares to summon him by calling his name, rises again through the work of a Black artist. On multiple levels, DaCosta’s Candyman celebrates the importance of Black expression and the social impact of storytelling. 

Black Art has always been compelling, groundbreaking and game-changing. Black Art is creation that defines us, for us. Black Art is Black Power. HBCU Buzz teamed up with Universal Pictures and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions for the Candyman HBCU Artist Showcase. Six talented student artists studying at historically Black colleges and universities around the country have been hand-picked to interpret the social impact and artistry prevalent in the film by erecting Candyman-inspired murals on their campuses. 

The student artists hail from Fisk University, Norfolk State University, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Grambling State University, and Tennessee State University.

In this new film, ambitious visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) sets a fateful domino effect into motion after moving into a loft in Chicago’s gentrified Cabrini-Green neighborhood with his life partner, gallery director Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). Seeking inspiration and a new direction for his art, Anthony’s fateful meeting with William Burke (Colman Domingo), a neighborhood old-timer, reveals the horrific truth behind the Candyman legend. It sets Anthony on a path that will unravel his sanity and unleash a wave of violence putting him on a collision course with destiny.  

Part of Nia DaCosta’s innovation for Candyman, is that themes of social justice are integral to the narrative. “Storytelling is such a crucial aspect of Black culture that has roots in our earliest civilizations. DaCosta’s incorporation of various themes that are prevalent in society today is not just commendable, it reminds us that even horror films can be organized in a purposeful manner that shines a light on the horrifying realities managed daily. It reminds us to never miss an opportunity to amplify such important messages,” shares HBCU Buzz CEO Luke Lawal Jr. 

“Art, specifically Black art, is a central character and theme in Nia DaCosta’s storytelling and thus an important part of Candyman’s social-impact campaign, which focuses on celebrating the creativity and vibrancy of Black culture,” said Keisha Senter, Director of Social Impact at Monkeypaw Productions. “As a graduate of Florida A&M University, I have always been a fan of HBCU Buzz’s connection to the community. They are a great partner to help tap into the next generation of artists on campuses across the country. Like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character, Anthony, in the film, these student artists are the voice of their generation and have captured our times with pride and boldness.” 

Candyman underscores topics including generational trauma, child naivety, police brutality, racism, prejudice and revenge. Although difficult to discuss, addressing many of these social issues is a coping mechanism for the Black community, especially with art as the vessel. The HBCU Buzz team is excited to continue the conversation ignited in Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, through commissioning six talented artists studying art at Black colleges to depict how Black Art is Black Power. 

Stay tuned to learn more about the student artists and for the mural unveilings. Candyman will be in theatres August 27th, too, but when you see it, don’t you dare say his name five times!