Chadwick Boseman was not a real monarch, but he was far more than just another actor. His appearance in Black Panther made him more than a king, it made him an icon. Boseman became an inspiration to millions as the powerful, caring leader—a symbol of Black power in a movie universe that too often seemed to relegate Black actors and Black characters to minor roles. King T'Challa was far from Boseman’s only inspirational role—over the course of three dozen films and television appearances, he also played Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson. Boseman’s appearances in these historic films brought real-life examples of Black power to a new generation, and his performance as Robinson was a genuine breakout role that showcased Boseman’s incredible talent.
What few people seemed to know is that Boseman worked through the last four years of his life, making films that were often extraordinarily demanding, in a constant fight against colon cancer. Even as Black Panther premiered to rave reviews and a billion dollar box office, Boseman was already a year into his fight. He kept on fighting, making seven more films, demonstrating a power far more super than anything seen on screen.
Chadwick Boseman died on Friday evening, in his home, with his family at his side.
Chadwick Boseman was a native of South Carolina and a graduate of historically Black Howard University. After graduation, he attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. Boseman did not know until years later that his entry into the academy had been quietly paid for by Denzel Washington, after the young Boseman passed the company’s audition, but could not afford to go. Washington provided a statement to Entertainment Weekly saying, "He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman."
Boseman was cast in numerous roles on television, including that of veteran Nathaniel Ray on the series “Lincoln Heights,” before making the move to films. For his performance in Black Panther, Boseman won numerous awards as well as being named the NAACP “entertainer of the year.” He was also an award-nominated playwright.