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How Much Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy Means to All of Us

Many around the world were left devastated when celebrated hero Chadwick Boseman, only 43, passed away due to Stage IV colon cancer on August 28th, 2020. Not only did the public not know about his four year diagnosis, but no one had time to say goodbye either. Boseman has portrayed many great leaders within the Black community through his films, his characters showing resilience after being faced with large amounts of animosity. For the past month, fans have been remembering him by watching his most notable movies: 42, Get on Up, and Marshall.

He is mainly known for his groundbreaking lead role in the first ever black lone-superhero movie, Marvel’s Black Panther. This film was praised for spreading awareness for Pan-Africanism and inclusivity of all people. As the child of two Nigerian immigrants, I understand how important it is to unite all members of the Black community under something as simple as a Marvel film. Seeing an all-black leading cast set in East Africa empowers those of us who feel largely underrepresented, reminding us that we need to stick for each other and understand that we are all brothers and sisters. 

Due to colonization, groups of us have been disconnected from our culture and have been forced to assimilate into practices adopted from settlers. Whether from Africa, the Caribbean, America, or any other part of the world, the positive response to the film across the globe allowed Black people to be hopeful for their voice to be heard in the media –especially when it became one of the first superhero films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (a category most films in franchises never qualify for), and the highest grossing lone-superhero film ever (beating Iron Man and Captain America’s standalone films). The film tells a larger narrative, aside from being attached to the Infinity War franchise saga, resulting in it being named one of the best stories of the decade.

The reason Black Panther is so important to the conversation of Chadwick Boseman is obviously because without Boseman, there would be no Black Panther. The fact that all he did to get the job was walk into the Marvel headquarters and explain to the MCU executives why he believed he should portray the superhero is enough evidence to show his fearlessness. He knew that this film would allow young Black children to finally look at a superhero and see someone who looks like them. It gives these children the inspiration to do anything they set their minds to, which is a type of message some of us can’t get from common superheroes like Spider-Man and Superman. 

My understanding is that the reason Boseman was able to depict these characters so well was because he was living by that motto to move forward every day no matter the cost. For most of the films he portrayed Black Panther in, he was also struggling with numerous surgeries and chemotherapy to treat his cancer. He never wanted to quit and dedicated himself to play this role of a lifetime. It was even revealed that up to a week before his death, he was preparing for Black Panther II, which was set to start filming in March 2021. 

When we look back at the short time we had with this monumental actor, we must remember to live like he did: by always pushing ourselves forward. If there is a dream you want to live out but people try to restrain you, it never hurts to at least try. As long as it doesn’t hurt you, always listen to your heart and don’t let people be an obstacle. It’s going to be hard moving ahead without Chadwick Boseman, but it’s the little things we collectively do to keep his memory alive that matter. Rest in peace, king.

Hi my name is Egesi Iheduru and I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona but am now studying Psychology and Cinema Studies at New York University! I love to watch all types of movies, ranging from indie art films to superhero franchises (forever Team Marvel!). Some of my hobbies include cheerleading, gymnastics, singing, and shopping at the mall. In the near future, I see myself working in either political psychology or screenwriting/acting in feature films. I'm very excited to be joining Her Campus to share some of my wisdom I've learned throughout my college experience.
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