The Legacy of Chadwick Boseman
September 4, 2020
Vontae Mack, Thurgood Marshall, Stormin Norm, and King T’challa were some of the characters Chadwick Boseman brought to life. He was the embodiment of a great man. Since his death on August 28, 2020 due to colon cancer, there has been an outpouring of grief and sadness.
Boseman was born and raised in South Carolina. He attended Howard University and in 2000, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. He later received an honorary degree from Howard University during his compelling 2018 commencement speech. After receiving his bachelor’s, he successfully graduated from New York City’s Digital Film Academy. He got his start from the soap opera “All My Children.” However, after he expressed concerns over the racist stereotypes the show portrayed, he was fired from the role and replaced by Michael B. Jordan who ultimately became a close friend.
In 2013, Boseman got his big break, starring in 42 as Jackie Robinson. Director Brian Helgeland admired Boseman’s bravery and the fact that he remained persistent, auditioning twice for the role. Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s widow) said that Chadwick reminded her of Jackie Robinson.
From there, he continued to play more groundbreaking and historical roles such as Vontae Mack in Draft Day, James Brown in Get on Up, T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War/Black Panther, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall and Stormin Norm in Da 5 Bloods. Additionally, he won 4 awards for his work in Black Panther such as Best Actor from the BET Awards. This type of acclaim is unprecedented for a black actor and is a testament to his talent and perseverance.
Chadwick was also known for his philanthropy and concern for others. He visited children battling cancer in the hospital and remained in contact with them. He was a positive role model and gave them hope. In particular, during the filming of Black Panther he kept in touch with two terminally ill boys who he specified by name, Ian and Taylor. Unfortunately, Ian and Taylor passed away right before the movie premiere which had an emotional impact on the actor as he spoke about them during an interview. To add to this, Boseman also made a 4.2 million dollar donation to allow hospitals to receive personal protective equipment. Even though Boseman was going through his own battle with cancer, he always put others before himself. He will always be remembered for his selflessness.
One of Boseman’s biggest supporters is freshman Kiley Irizarry. Kiley says, “Chadwick meant a lot to me especially being African. My mom’s parents are from West Africa and it’s the culture I grew up around. In Black Panther, Chadwick showed that not every depiction of West Africa has to be poverty and sadness. He showed us the culture and beauty through Black Panther. He was very inspiring especially knowing that he did all of that while he was struggling through cancer. He was a great man and I’ll miss him so much.”
Junior Sarai Francis also looked up to Boseman as an inspiration. Sarai explained, “Chadwick Boseman was such an inspiration to me, as an African American actor with a solo film about black empowerment. Of course there have been many films with the same theme, but they essentially show black people as weak and in poverty, then rising above. But in his film, it simply showed black excellence. I’ve wanted to be an actress for as long as I remember. As soon as the Black Panther film came out, I immediately started looking up to him and thought I’m going to do what he did. I’m going to make a difference in people’s lives and empower people. He was truly a legend and I hope he rests in power.”
Boseman was a light in a world filled with chaos. He wasn’t afraid to set the precedent, break barriers and speak his mind. He had so much more to offer but his legacy will forever live on. One of his famous quotes is, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’ ” I believe it’s safe to say mission accomplished, rest well Chadwick Boseman. You are an inspiration to us all.
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