On August 28th, 2020, Chadwick Aaron Boseman passed away after a four-year battle with colon cancer, leaving everyone, particularly black children who viewed the actor as a hero and a lifeline, in shock. He was 43 years old.
After graduating from Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, DC., with his B.F.A. and plans to become a director, Boseman found himself acting in mostly minor roles throughout the 2000s. What started out as a plan to perfect his craft, studying acting so that he could learn more about how to communicate with actors, quickly turned into something monumental. To some, Boseman was the guy who played Jackie Robinson in 42. To others, he was a young Thurgood Marshall. To many, he was T’Challa, the “anti-hero”/protagonist of the 2018 superhero film Black Panther.
To speak on Boseman’s death does not mean we also have to delve into his struggle with cancer, which he chose to keep private. Of course, what he was able to accomplish in the last four years of his life while battling a serious disease is remarkable, and even inspiring. However, this year has been filled with so much suffering, especially for the black community, who are being forced to witness yet another hero die. If there is any positivity at all to be found among this tragedy, that is what we should focus on. For starters, let’s look at what meant the most to Chadwick Boseman.
Boseman was immensely proud to be someone black children could look up to. He was proud to use the platform he earned to speak up about important things, such as feminism and police brutality. This is what Boseman was all about. The fight for true equality persists, even and especially amidst a pandemic, and Chadwick Boseman’s fans are turning their grief into motivation to continue his work.
Most recently, petitions seeking to recognize the extraordinary life Boseman lived have been circulating social media, particularly one with 200,000+ signatures calling for the replacement of a Confederate monument with a memorial for the actor in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina.
Rest in Power, Chadwick.