Graphic by Alex Iannone
On Aug. 28, actor Chadwick Boseman passed away in his home, surrounded by his wife and family. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and suffered silently as it progressed to stage four. Boseman was and will continue to be an inspiration to many; in his career, he played Black icons such as baseball player Jackie Robinson, Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and singer James Brown. Refusing to give up, he was able to make seven movies after his diagnosis. He worked through several surgeries and chemotherapy sessions, determined not to let cancer stop him.
Boseman was born in South Carolina and graduated from Howard University. He had modest roles in television before earning his debut to stardom with his depiction of Jackie Robinson in the 2013 hit “42.” This movie was important for Boseman, not only due to its popularity, but the influence that Jackie Robinson has for Black Americans facing adversity in the world today. One of Boseman’s most important roles in bringing more awareness to the adversity faced by Black Americans was his portrayal of T’challa in the 2018 Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther.” While Boseman was unsure if the world was ready for a Black Panther, the movie saw major success in the box office, accumulating $1.3 billion. It also became the only Marvel film to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. A highly anticipated sequel was announced by Marvel Studios shortly after the first’s success. The movie’s initial debut was set for May 6, 2022, but following Boseman’s death, Marvel will need to decide how they should honor his legacy.
Along with being an influential figure for Black Americans, Boseman motivated young children suffering from cancer and other illnesses. Following his tragic death, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital shared posts about Boseman on their social media, emphasizing how he inspired and encouraged patients to remain hopeful in the face of disease. Although he was ill, he frequently visited the hospital to meet sick children, even helping a young girl celebrate her birthday in her hospital bed. His generosity brought so much happiness to the lives of children who were ultimately facing the same obstacles he was.
Kenyan-Mexican actress and author Lupita Nyong’o found it difficult to write words for her friend and colleague. She wrote a beautiful piece, posted on social media, “When I was around Chadwick, I wanted to be better, less petty, more purposeful … He was fueled by love, not fear.” He leaves friends, family, colleagues and his wife, Simone, with a great loss.
The untimely death of Boseman was a great loss to Hollywood and the world itself. He was an inspiration to countless young Americans. His work with children and African-Americans facing adversity proves that he not only has an amazing skill in bringing characters to life, but his character remains a generous one. He leaves behind a legacy of passion and dedication. His memory will continue to grow and inspire all who come after him.