A little Black girl on Good Morning America dressed as Black Panther gave Chadwick Boseman a picture she had drawn. When Robin Roberts inquired why she was excited to see the film, this beautiful little queen simply stated, “…because I see someone that looks like me.” I broke down in tears at how immensely hope filled that moment resonated around the globe.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined in less than a week, we would be applauding the first Black woman and Vice-Presidential candidate (Kamala Harris) and saying goodbye to our first Black Superhero. Both students and graduates from my alma mater – Howard University. This loss really hurt and has gutted me to my core. My professor Vera Katz spoke often and fondly of him and was so very proud to have had a small hand in his mega career.
Having interviewed him during his short, yet impressive life and career, I found him to be sweet, kind and thoughtful with a maturity well beyond his years. There seem to be no limits to what accomplished, and as a fellow Bison, Howard University alumni and current students beamed with pride at the sheer mention of his name. His name represented hope in an archaic Hollywood caste system not set up for Black men and women, yet Chad proved them all wrong by never being boxed in
Upon graduation from ‘The Mecca,’ like most actors, he started out with a handful of television Co-Star/Guest Star roles on television in Law & Order, ER and Cold Case before landing a heavy recurring role in Lincoln Heights as Nathaniel Ray. I’m sure even he wasn’t prepared for the seismic shift when he landed the role of a lifetime playing Jackie Robinson in ’42,’ which led to a string of playing iconic Black Men like James Brown in Get On Up or his most controversial role as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. I literally remember fighting with someone online during the wee hours of the night over that one (HU…You Know!!!!)
But, it was T’Challa and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that would make him a global superstar appearing in more Marvel franchise films like The Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It’s eery now to think of his role as a fallen soldier in Spike Lee’s war drama for Netflix ‘Da 5 Bloods’, where he literally is seen as an apparition of his character Stormin’ Norman and I was looking forward to his spin on the role of Levee in George C. Wolfe directed Netflix production of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ starring Glynn Turman and Academy Award winner Viola Davis.
My heart hurts and l’m sure it only pales in comparison to his family, wife and all those brilliant artists who have worked alongside him and his gentle, giving nature. In light of today being the anniversary of the March on Washington and with police shootings at an all time high, I am reminded of Chad’s words during my last interview with him for Shadow and Act around 21 Bridges on that very subject, “…people ain’t perfect. We’re human beings and when people have power, they’re going to wield it in their favor or in ways that serve their egos. I think you can try to make it better and educate people. You can do a better job of hiring and screening them before, but there’s always going to be…corrupt cops.”
Chadwick Boseman fought the good fight for justice and against the ‘silent killer’ Stage III Colon Cancer. He now rest in power, but his legacy, his work and his spirit are embodied through the magic of cinema and will live on forever. Sleep well my beautiful Bison brotha’ – You will be missed. I’ll leave you with his Guest stint on SNL which is hilarious and proves that even the most serious actors have a wicked sense of humor.