The king is dead. Long live the king! Chadwick Boseman is most prominently known as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but also, he literally played every major black historical figure that was in a film in the past 10 years. These include Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown.
I am not usually one to get down in the dumps about the passing of a celebrity. These are people I have never met before. I do feel a sense of loss. I feel for their families and all that they must deal with in the aftermath of their loved one’s death. Everything that comes along with losing a loved one from the actual grief to dealing with funeral arrangements, etc. Those things are just so taxing especially because that person that you love so dearly is not going to be there anymore.
Chadwick Boseman’s death hit me differently. The roles that he had portrayed (especially T’Challa) have become a symbol of black empowerment. I really think that no one else could have played the role of T’Challa like he did or commanded such screen present in his other films. He was a king amongst men. Not just because he played one in the movies, but because he displayed a passion for his purpose and people that many people in his position have not. He always picked roles to show the power, strength, dignity, and humanity of black men.
Chadwick battled colon cancer for four years before is untimely death. Let us think about this, a total of 10 films have been released where he was the star or that featured prominently since 2016. That means he was battling colon cancer while filming the majority of the MCU movies that featured him and his other films since then. These films including the associated press tours were all done in between his treatments and surgeries. Moreover, the world never knew about his battle. That is a testament to the man’s strength, his dedication to his craft, but also in my opinion, his dedication to his family.
As someone who is in their early 40s, the fact that he was 43 makes his death even closer to home. Chadwick was a year older than I am today. When people are pretty much your contemporaries pass away and suddenly at that, it is a sobering wake up call for your own mortality. The fact that someone who seems so healthy, someone who was battling so much and never knew just passed away. You know it makes you really reevaluate life.
I never met Chadwick Boseman, but I did see him up close and personal as we were both on the same flight to LA from DC the morning after his commencement speech at Howard University in 2018. As we waited to board the plane, I noticed him (as did many others) standing with his team. He seemed in good spirits. You would never have known what he was dealing with by looking at him. Just seeing him in person, you got a sense of what sort of man that he was. You just knew that he was one of those bright lights whose passions help to illuminate the goodness in us all. Unfortunately, his light has been extinguished from the world all too soon.
Thank you, Chadwick, for being such an inspirational actor. Thank you for bringing our heroes and icons to life in a way that no one else could have. Thank you for never detracting from the fact that they are pinnacles of not just the black community, not just black history, but American history. Thank you for bringing Black Panther to life. Black Panther is a character that I have loved since a child. He has been idolized by every blerd and emulated by every creator of color since his introduction, and you brought their inspiration to life as no one else could have. Now our society has a living, breathing Black Panther to call our own. Because of you, a character that gave us so much hope and so much inspiration now allows many of us to finally see ourselves in these roles. We will always love and cherish for you who you where and what you gave to the people.
Rest in power my brother. You are now with the ancestors.
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