Wakanda Forever! The Black Panther Lives On!
Hi everybody! Welcome to our monthly segment. Sorry for the late post, but I wanted to take my time on this one. I’m sure you already know this, but I want to commemorate September’s Black Sheep of the Month with this small heartfelt piece.
Recently, the world lost a truly incredible talent who only began to scratch the surface of his full potential. To our greatest regret, nobody could anticipate what was coming and failed to diagnose what was truly happening to Chadwick Boseman. However, this is also something we can celebrate. How? Well…its simple…like his Black Panther persona, he embodied a strong spirit and will. It takes a special person to put on a smile while knowing full well that his life was coming to an end soon.
Renowned for his performances in ‘42’ and as the legendary James Brown in ‘Get on Up’, many fans recognised Chadwick for his portrayal of Marvel superhero ‘Black Panther’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Chadwick was an incredibly gifted actor and role model for people of all creeds and colors. Needless to say he held a talent that will be sorely missed in many industries. A modern day pioneer and poet for the black communities, a hero to children and adults alike, he spearheaded a legacy that will be difficult to emulate. So, without further adieu, allow me to shed some light on our hero.
Early life and upbringing
Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born in 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina to Leroy and Carolyn Boseman. His mother worked as a nurse and his father worked as the manager of an upholstery business as well as working at a textile factory. Very much like his parents, Chadwick adopted a high level of humility and work ethic that is not easily duplicated.
As you may know already, he was an active child and showed a keen interest in creativity and the arts.
In 1995, he graduated from T.L Hanna High School. As destiny would have it, this school was instrumental to fostering a drive and tenacity towards the arts due to one of his classmates being shot and killed. To honor this loss and insurmountable pain, in his junior year, Chadwick wrote and staged his first play ‘Crossroads’ at the school as an outlet for his grief. Clearly, this was a milestone for the empathetic hero we know today. But lets continue…
In 2000, with his first step taken at T.L Hanna, he graduated from Howard University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Directing. Fortunately for us, he was quickly recognized for his many talents and passions. One of Chadwick’s teachers, Phylicia Rashad, recognized his potential, and raised funds to allow Chadwick and fellow classmates to attend the Oxford Mid-Summer program at the British American Drama Academy.
Famously known, she received help raising the funds from none other than Denzel Washington, whom was a friend of hers.
Transitioning into an actor
Initially, Chadwick aspired to become a director, and he began taking acting lessons as a way of getting into the heads of other actors. Smart way to learn and relate to the perspective required to be a better director if you ask me. Like many Black Sheep before him, he strived to educate himself to further evolve his craft.
The Black Panther Lives On!
As time went by, Chadwick found himself more and more passionate about acting. Finally in 2008, he moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue his acting career full time. He appeared in TV shows including Third Watch and landed his first lead role was in ‘42’ where he played baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Incidentally, before landing that role, he was still directing. Oddly enough, we nearly didn’t get to experience his Marvel debut due to the limited roles he was being offered. He nearly gave up acting to pursue directing full time.
He appeared in other movies though he really burst onto the scene as Black Panther, the Marvel superhero in 2018.
He later reprised his LEGENDARY role in Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: End Game, which were both the highest grossing films of the year. Endgame would go on to become the highest grossing movie of all time.
More importantly, although he was a legend on the screen, he was also a legend in social justice.
Real Life Superhero
Chadwick did more than just act, his movies inspired a generation of young black children that they could be whatever they wanted to be if they just believe in themselves. Taking on the role of Jackie Robinson, a black baseball player that broke down barriers and sharing his story to the younger generation was an important step to showcase the struggles Jackie faced during his time. Chadwick chose these roles not just to act, but to inspire present and future generations.
For black people to witness a black man take on a superhero role with an all black cast is something extraordinary. Black Panther was more than a movie, it was a cultural shift changing the way people viewed superheros. Diagnosed with colon cancer around in 2016, Chadwick understood the importance the message the role would send to the world, not even the cancer could stop him from fulfilling his life duty.
In the final months of his life, Chadwick married longtime girlfriend Taylor Simone Ledward. They had been together since 2015, but kept a low profile. People took notice during Chadwick’s acceptance speech for his Black Panther performance for best Film Ensemble win. He shouted: “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you.”
His parents also never drifted far from Chadwick especially during the prime of his movie career. His parents were often on the set and providing support and motivation. They also looked out for his well being. On the set of the movie “42” his father stopped production of a scene fearing for his son’s safety.
“We laughed about that too. He definitely came to set. It’s an experience where if you have your mom and dad with you, you want them to experience this thing. It’s something that connects you to who you are. This is a family experience. It’s a family movie.” – Chadwick Boseman
Just like his family was by his side during his life and career, they would also be by his side during his final moments.
Tragically, Chadwick passed away on the 28th of August 2020, due to complications with colon cancer. Sadly, Chadwick was diagnosed back in 2016 but kept the news to himself. Despite his ongoing battle, he poured all his efforts to get into amazing physical shape to play a superhero. Quite an eye opener to say the least and heart wrenching when you truly grasp what he endured throughout those many years. A Legendary Black Sheep indeed!
His death rocked the entertainment industry and tributes began flooding in. Like many awe inspiring Black Sheep before him, the news of his passing was heart wrenching and undoubtedly difficult to comprehend.
He left behind a legacy and love that will forever be considered iconic to millions all over the globe. Rest in Power King!