On Friday August 28th, it was announced by the Boseman family through his official Twitter account, that actor, producer, and activist Chadwick Boseman had sadly passed away after a four year long battle with colon cancer.
Boseman, best known for playing T’Challa, the protagonist of the Marvel Studios box office smash hit Black Panther, left an indelible mark on the world and the Black community especially.
In his nearly decade long career, Boseman delivered powerhouse performances of what seemed like every historic Black figure imaginable. Whether playing Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” James Brown in “Get on Up,” or Jackie Robinson in “42,” Boseman told powerful and poignant stories that transcended boundaries and resonated with audience members of all backgrounds, while simultaneously highlighting a few of the innumerable stories of Black excellence that too often go untold.
Boseman captivated millions with his talent and rightfully received critical acclaim and fame as a result. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment was not the awards or notoriety he received, but rather what he represented and showed us was possible. The true embodiment of Black excellence, every performance Boseman delivered made audience members such as myself relish and take pride in our blackness.
Kids wanted to play baseball after watching “42.” Following the release of “Get on Up,” grandparents remembered the times of their youth and shouted “I’m Black and I’m proud, louder than loud!” People of all ages, however, joined in the historical never before seen experience that was “Black Panther.”
“Black Panther”–a movie truly the first of its kind with a nearly all Black cast and director– meant so much to a group of people who had been long made to feel so little. Black people showed up to movie theaters in droves, some people two or three times over, dressed head to toe in cultural garb from every region of Africa and made the “Wakanda Forever” symbol over their chests for months to come.
Because of Boseman, the Black community saw that we could be whatever we wanted–a baseball legend, a musical superstar, a Supreme Court Justice, a superhero. He helped us realize our purpose and discover parts of ourselves that before we never would have imagined.
“You would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you,” said Boseman during his 2018 Commencement Address at his alma mater, Howard University.
In his 43 years, Boseman was able to find his purpose, and as a result, will forever be remembered as the man who had and will continue to help others find their own for generations to come.