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Growing up, I heard stories of the great achievements of respectable men who made an impact on the African American community. These were men who enlightened the true perspective of their race towards the American public.

Jackie Robinson: a man who wore #42 and changed the face of American’s favorite pastime through ingratiation; demonstrating to the public eye that his [Jackie’s] love for the game trumps race.     

James Brown: “The Godfather of Soul” for his unique version of funk and R&B music that shaped 20th century music and dance. Without Brown, we wouldn’t know how to: “Get Up.”     

Thurgood Marshall: the first appointment African American judge to the U.S Supreme Court. Through the courts, Marshall sought justice for the civil rights movement and faced countless obstacles of racial prejudice and segregation. He won a record 29 out of 32 Supreme Court cases, successfully arguing for the protection of minorities.     

T’Challa/Black Panther: the first African American fictional hero created by Marvel comics in the late 1960s. Before creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee broke their way into comic books, most characters were Caucasian. The addition of the King of Wakanda allowed the Marvel Universe to be more inclusive and resulted in an increase in diverse characters for readers, such as: Storm, Blade, Luke Cage, War Machine and Falcon. Though T’Challa is fiction, he has shaped the way in which children, teens, and adults view heroes.

Each one of these men transformed the world, bringing a new light to the perspective of a good baseball player, a talented musician, a successful attorney/judge, and a crimefighter. However, without the talented efforts of Chadwick Boseman, these notable individuals wouldn’t have been accurately portrayed on the silver screen. Boseman’s on-screen performances reconnect a new and old generation with these real and fictional men. For example, the movie 42 depicts the struggles of an African American baseball player trying to deal with two problems: racism and playing ball. Boseman showcases that Robinson’s talent and love for baseball withstood his anger at the hateful coaches, players, and fans, as well as his demoralization for being detonated based on the color of his skin. The audience can see the raw, emotional strain of being the first African American to play in the Major Leagues. Boseman introduces a new side to Jackie Robinson that enlights a new found love and admiration for the man who broke the color barrier between blacks and whites in professional baseball. Boseman’s showcasing of the true story of Jackie Robinson will allow for Jackie’s legacy to be continued and remembered for generations to come. Boseman and Jackie are both #42.   

 Soul music, it’s the funk and the rhythm that makes you want to dance til you can’t dance any more. It’s the beat that makes you get up! The 20th century recreated its idea of dance and funky music because of a man named James Brown, who broke down barriers pertaining to the philosophy of what is considered “good” music. Boseman encompasses Brown’s dynamic feel for rhythm and showcases the singer’s struggles from early life all the way to his breakout into the music industry. Boseman’s brilliant acting embodies Brown’s style and is the reason why Brown is considered the “Godfather of Soul”, “Mr. Dynamite”, and “Soul Brother No. 1.” Boseman’s performance of “Get on Up” renders him to be unmistakable from Brown’s atmosphere on stage and the talent he possessed when recording in the record studio.     

To become a Supreme Court judge is a landmark, but to become the first African American man appointed to the panel of nine justices is historical. Boseman of course understood the importance of playing another influential African American when giv-en the role of the young Thursgood Marshall. Before Marshall was Supreme Court Justice and before his preceding over the famous court case Brown vs. Board of Education, Marshall was a civil rights lawyer working the depths of the south. Boseman demonstrates Marshall’s mission to seek justice for innocent men who are convicted on the prejudice of their skin. Boseman does a great job of portraying the importance of Marshall’s early making in the justice system and the importance of fighting for those who are very underrepresented in court due to racial stereotypes. Boseman encompasses the courage and resilience shown in young Marshall’s early steps towards improving the justice system.     

Though Boseman took on the roles of many good characters, none of them will be quite so important as Chadwick Boseman’s role as Black Panther. When Marvel Studios first introduced Black Panther in Civil War, fans were able to see the studio’s hardworking efforts towards being more inclusive and representative of the diversity seen today. But, it was a landmark when Black Panther got his own movie because Boseman became the face of what millions of African American children dreamed of: a hero that looks like me. Boseman’s performances as T’Challa showcased that anyone can be a hero, that the color of their skin and the differences of their culture do not matter. Boseman taught the audience that being a hero is about having the heart of a king, the compassion of a brother, and the mindset to never back down, even when the odds are against you. Thanks to Boseman, millions of children will see a new light into what it means to be a superhero. His legacy as playing the Black Panther will always be one of his most remarkable roles. In honor of Boseman, from all us Marvel fans, “Wakanda Forever.” Boseman’s portrayal of influential African Americans helps the new generation recognize the importance of the number 42, the power of soul music, the strive to seek justice even when the odds are against you, and that race doesn’t define a hero or a king.   

 Thank you Chadwick Boseman for the years you gave to the public, in service of your career, to represent legendary African Americans from the past century. During your days fighting against colon cancer, you continued to act and make time for others. For example, your willingness to give back to others through visiting hospitals, like St. Jude’s, lit up the faces of children who happily cried tears of joy upon seeing their hero in real life.Similar to Black Panther, you kept on fighting. You will be missed, but your legacy will live on and you will be just as remembered as the great African Americans of the past you’ve so accurately portrayed on camera. So, sincerely, thank you! And lastly… Wakanda Forever.  

Nicolette is studying Physiology with a minor in Health Promotion at Michigan State University. Planning to go to dental school, with her dream job to provide dental care to professional athletics and travel the world to provide assistance to those who don't have proper dental care. In addition, Nicolette is also a member of MSU Pre-Dental Club, MSU Chaarg, and MSU Relay. Nicolette's favorite pastime(s) is going to sporting events with her friends, photography and working out at her part-time job: IM West.
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