10:11 pm, August 28th 2020.
Posts began to appear on Chadwick Boseman’s social accounts announcing his departure after battling colon cancer for the better part of four years in secret.
At 10:12 pm, the entire world began to mourn.
Very few individuals have left such an impact on the world in such little time as Chadwick Aaron Boseman did. Before 2016, few households knew his name even though he received critical acclaim for his work in the films 42, the biopic on baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson and Get On Up, where he portrayed the legendary James Brown. However, when he graced the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: Civil War as Prince T’Challa, he had arrived.
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It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. Photo Credit: @samjonespictures
While he played a pivotal part in that film, the world awaited for his true coronation, the film that shook the industry and shattered as many stereotypes as it did records. We are, of course, talking about Black Panther. In a film that broke the mold of the Hollywood myths and stigma in Black cinema, Black Panther became the highest grossing solo superhero film and, more importantly, the highest grossing film by a Black director. Helmed by the talented Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), the film was composed of a cast almost entirely of Black actors, set operators, designers and consultants, all representing the Black community.
The film brought important discussions within the community to the big screen and it became the first superhero film to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’ at the 91st Academy Awards. In total, Black Panther was nominated for seven coveted golden statues and it ended the night with three wins, one of which was given to Ruth E. Carter for ‘Best Costume Design,’ the first African American in the history of the Oscars to win in this category.
I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking.
Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King💙 pic.twitter.com/oBERXlw66Z
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 29, 2020
The achievements of that film are great indeed, but they pale in comparison to how Chadwick Boseman brought the King T’Challa to the cinemascape. He took the mantle of the King of Wakanda, the fictional country in Africa known for its wealth and scientific advancement, and his performance was not only an outstanding portrayal of the superhero Black Panther, but he moved many with how he brought this beloved, and for many unseen, character to life. His demeanor, charm, and his grace on the screen truly felt like he came from a royal bloodline, raised to carry himself with dignity wherever he appeared, and that is why we mourn.
Boseman is celebrated by his peers for being a man of principle and dignity. Every room he graced, he did so with poise and respect. Every interaction with a fan or a colleague was with a warm heart and a welcome embrace. He was a man who chose his words carefully because he understood how powerful they were and he lived his life with the intention to inspire purpose. He also chose his roles wisely because he knew how important it was to bring life to those who paved the way for the Howard University Alum to portray Jackie Robinson and James Brown.
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How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with. A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation. He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all. He was zen and sweet and funny (with the very best laugh), attentive, and truly, truly, good. I can’t even wrap my mind around this loss. A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him. I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend. Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani.
He likely knew there was a chance he may leave this world when he played Thurgood Marshall and most recently Norman Earl Holloway in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Attempting to fill those shoes is a monumental ask in itself. Yet, he did so while going through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy without a hint to the outside world. He continued to live his life with purpose until the end, while shouldering his suffering in silence to bring about performances that would leave a lasting impact and encourage others to inspire and give hope for generations to come. To show young Black men and boys that they too can have a hero that looks like them, that came where they came from, and has experienced what they’ve experienced.
At age 43, Chadwick Boseman left such a mark in a career that only spanned roughly a decade that it is hard to believe that he is gone. It seems as if there are so many more stories to tell, worlds to visit and examples of dignity, class and purpose that only he could give us. It is difficult to imagine another like Chadwick in our lifetime, however, he has left an exemplary body of work to gather inspiration from. It is important to note that the shock felt around the world when the news broke serves to remind us that life is ever so fragile and we should all look to lead a life that he so delicately illustrated for us; a life of purpose. As we say goodbye to Chadwick, there are so many ways one can describe how amazing his light was and how far it reached and yet there seems to be few that do him justice. Except maybe one.
Thank you for inspiring so much with just your presence.