Wakanda, forever. Chadwick Boseman, forever. He is gone but will forever live in our hearts. We are all inspired by his relentless drive to make the world a better place.
Chadwick Boseman grew up in Anderson, SC. His childhood was happy, but racism was always around. He once said, “Going to high school, I’d see Confederate flags on trucks. I know what it’s like to be a kid at an ice-cream shop when some little white kid calls you ‘n—–,’ but your parents tell you to calm down because they know it could blow up. We even had trucks try to run us off the road.”
When he was a junior in high school, his basketball teammate was shot and killed. The incident shook Boseman’s world and prompted him to write a play called “Crossroads.” It opened his eyes to the power of stories as a way to express his emotions and make an impact.
The discrimination didn’t stop there. In the daytime opera, All My Children, he expressed some concern about the show’s racist stereotypes and was immediately fired. Little did he know that these incidents might be preparing him to be a superhero and a role model in the future.
Despite the hardships over the years, Boseman continued working, auditioning, writing plays, and finessing his acting skills. He worked tirelessly to represent important Black icons such as baseball star Jackie Robinson, singer James Brown, the first Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Boseman had a unique ability to accurately portray the characters and make them alive again. His big break came when he signed a 5-movie deal with Marvel to be Black Panther. By assuming the role, Boseman became the beacon of hope for Black people everywhere. Although the character was fictitious, he painted a different image of Black people, a portrait of bravery, courage, honor, and dignity.
He did that while suffering from colon cancer. His stage-3 diagnosis was in 2016. While battling for equality on the outside, he was silently fighting a war on the inside. Rounds and rounds of chemo could not stop him. Boseman knew this movie would create such an impact on society, so he persevered through it. The fact that no one knew or even suspected proved how special Boseman was. People only saw a superhero who was there to influence and promote a better future with equality for all. During the filming of Black Panther, he was communicating with two boys with terminal cancer. Their parents told him that the kids were trying to “hold on” to watch this culture-changing movie. After Black Panther was released, Boseman even bought 312 movie tickets for underprivileged kids from his hometown. He proved that superhero did exist in real life after all.
His time with us was way too short. What other changes could he have brought? Could you be the next Chadwick Boseman, rise above your struggles, and bring hope to someone today?
“Whatever you choose … remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”