This year has been one of the most stressing on our country, let alone the Black community. From having global protest supporting Black Lives Matter, to losing legends like Kobe Bryant and John Lewis, we’ve been there for each other for comfort and reassurance. On August 28th, the world stopped once again when the news broke that actor Chadwick Boseman had passed from stage IV colon cancer. Several of his colleagues and fans spoke out about his death and how his light will be deeply missed. *insert attached screenshots*
With stunning performances as Jackie Robinson (42), Thurgood Marshall (Marshall), and of course, our King T’Challa (Black Panther), Boseman redefined what being a strong talent meant by powering through his illness. Both on and off screen, Chadwick Boseman overcame with class and grace inspiring the millions who watched him. In efforts to remember him let’s take a look at his top five most inspiring moments.
After winning in the categories “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture”, “Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture”, and “Outstanding Motion Picture”, Boseman entered the press room for interview questions in good spirits. When asked, “Do you feel as though you are living in your purpose and if not how do you tap back into that…?” He answered, “I feel that I am living in my purpose…it unfolds more and more to you every day…You might get stagnated…it’s just being open to what you’re supposed to do at this moment…purpose is not related to a career, purpose is not related to a job.”
#4 – 2018 MTV Awards
When called to accept the award for “Best Hero”, Boseman approached the stage waving and thanking his fans. As he was handed the golden popcorn trophy he spoke about how the fans made Black Panther special. He said that even though it was great to acknowledge T’Challa as a great hero in the film, it is equally as great to acknowledge everyday heroes. He then looked to the crowd and identified James Shaw Jr. A brave civilian who fought off a lone gunman at a Waffle House in Antioch, TN. Boseman handed the award off to him stating, “This is going to live at your house.”
During another press tour of Black Panther, Boseman stopped by for an interview with Trevor Noah, a South African Native. They of course talked about the film and its revolutionary impact on both Black and African culture, but also his take on the character of T’Challa. When asked about the duality of the villain and hero of the film he stated, “Everyone is the hero in their own story…you should see yourself conquering the dramatic action of whatever you’re trying to do…you have to be the person who deals with the conflicts that are in place…even if you pray to God, God expects you to do some things.”
In this commencement address to the students and faculty of Howard University, Boseman was asked to return to his own Alma Mater to give an encouraging speech to the graduating class of 2018; and of course he delivered. He began with paying tribute to former educators from his time there and then led into his invocation, talking about how amongst struggles whether academic, social, or mental that they had made it to “The Hilltop”. “When completing a long climb, one first usually experiences dizziness, disorientation, and shortness of breath due to the high altitude, but once you become accustomed to the climb, your mind opens up to the tranquility of the triumph…”
He explained how in his first role on a major soap opera he attempted to voice his concerns over a possibly stereotypical character, and he was let go. Though getting fired was a conflicting experience, he related the incident back to his undergraduate struggles. “Graduating class hear me well, on this day, when you have reached The Hilltop…and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you…the struggles along the way are meant to shape you for your purpose.” He closed with sentiments of love and insight.
After accepting the award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” for Black Panther, Boseman and his ensemble cast mates took to the stage. While remembering working with his this cast he reflected on two major questions asked during other press tours. He answered with “To be young, gifted, and Black.” He stated how the majority of the cast knew what it meant to be told “There is not a place for you to be featured, yet you are young, gifted, and Black…We knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplifies a world we wanted to see.”
Chadwick Boseman has been nothing but the epitome of tact and poise. Even on screen as an iconic, fictional king and trailblazing historic figures, he has motivated new generations of innovators. So much can be learned from him in both life and death. Boseman received his diagnosis in 2016, only telling those of importance. He charged forward and continued to bring optimism to us all. Rather than focusing on how he silently suffered, let us rather commend his skill and perseverance of how he lived.