Actor Chadwick Boseman has died of colon cancer at the age of 43.
Boseman, most famous for his portrayal of T’Challa in Black Panther, personified grace and dignity onscreen and off. In April of this year, Boseman donated $4.2 million worth of PPE to hospitals serving the Black community.
A staunch supporter of the BLM movement, Boseman challenged Hollywood’s encouragement of “the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”
Boseman made a name for himself playing Black icons like Jackie Robinson (42), Thurgood Marshall (Marshall), and James Brown (Get On Up), but it was the role of T’Challa that bridged the generational gap.
Black Panther gave Black filmgoers of all ages a portrayal of Africans that had never been seen before. In the fictional Wakanda, brains receive as much praise as brawn. Wakanda’s fiercest warriors, the Dora Milaje, are an all-female unit, and there is a heavy focus on STEM education in the Black community.
Boseman knew the profound impact the film would have on impressionable young minds. “There’s a thirst for a Black superhero,” he said. And he was right.
In the wake of protests following the tragic murders of Black people by the police, Boseman’s death feels especially heavy.
Black communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the death of such an inspirational figure adds another layer of grief.
It’s normal to grieve for someone you’ve never met. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pain and suffering the world has faced this year.
I can only imagine how tired Chadwick Boseman must have been, but he chose to share his gift with the world anyway.
Diagnosed in 2016, Boseman portrayed T’Challa, king of Wakanda, in four action films. He allowed us to witness his strength and dedication without ever letting on that he was suffering.
But Chadwick Boseman should not be used as ableist porn. We can applaud his efforts without shaming others. I believe that’s the last thing he would want.
While most of us never had the opportunity to meet him, we let him into our lives (and our hearts) through his work.
He will never be forgotten.
Friday was the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was also Jackie Robinson Day.
From now on, it will also be remembered as a day we lost a superhero.
Rest In Peace, King.
Donations to BLM can be made here.