If you don’t recognize the name Chadwick Boseman, you recognize the role he is best known for: the Marvel superhero, Black Panther. Though he’d already portrayed the likes of Jackie Robinson and James Brown, this was the role that launched Boseman into stardom. He gave young black children a role model they’d never had the likes of before– a superhero that looks like them, something that is so important for children to idolize.
From that point on, Boseman’s career skyrocketed. Since the initial debut of his Black Panther character, Boseman has starred in nine movies, receiving praise for his range of roles. Film critic Owen Gleiberman had this to say about Boseman’s skill:
“Boseman was a virtuoso actor who had the rare ability to create a character from the outside in and the inside out [and he] knew how to fuse with a role, etching it in three dimensions […] That’s what made him an artist, and a movie star, too. Yet in Black Panther, he also became that rare thing, a culture hero.”
Chadwick Boseman was so talented that no one outside his close circle really knew what was going on beneath the surface. In 2016, just around the time of his debut of Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, Boseman began to fight a battle no hero should have to– he was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer.
Over the past four years, Boseman completed movies such as Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, the stand-alone Black Panther film, and more. He worked, attended premieres, did interviews, all while privately dealing with this horrible disease. He privately underwent chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. He even secretly married his long-time girlfriend, singer Taylor Simone Ledward, sometime in 2020.
On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman lost his life to the terrible disease. To many people, his death was a complete shock. It was, and still is, difficult to believe that the beloved superhero was gone too soon.
Celebrities across the world– from close friends to acquaintances– have come out with statements and stories about what an incredible man Chadwick Boseman was, and what a tragic loss his death is.
One of the many statements comes from Michael B. Jordan, who starred opposite Boseman in Black Panther. The two of them were a part of this massive blockbuster, and became close friends not only due to their work, but the struggles they’ve faced in Hollywood.
“One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked , and now the truth of that means more to me than ever,” Jordan says in an Instagram post. “Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning and constantly motivated by your greatness.”
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I’ve been trying to find the words, but nothing comes close to how I feel. I’ve been reflecting on every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug…everything. I wish we had more time. One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked , and now the truth of that means more to me than ever. Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning and constantly motivated by your greatness. I wish we had more time. Everything you’ve given the world … the legends and heroes that you’ve shown us we are … will live on forever. But the thing that hurts the most is that I now understand how much of a legend and hero YOU are. Through it all, you never lost sight of what you loved most. You cared about your family , your friends, your craft, your spirit. You cared about the kids, the community, our culture and humanity. You cared about me. You are my big brother, but I never fully got a chance to tell you, or to truly give you your flowers while you were here. I wish we had more time. I'm more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire. I’m gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts. I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I’m dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. With grace, courage, and no regrets. “Is this your king!?” Yes . he . is! Rest In Power Brother.
Many referred to Chadwick Boseman as the next Denzel Washington, an icon in Hollywood. In a special on Boseman’s life, “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute For A King,” it was revealed that his connection to Washington was deeper than many realized. While a student at Howard University, Boseman received the opportunity to attend the prestigious British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer program, but could not afford it. His mentor, actress Phylicia Rashad, made a call to her friend, Denzel Washington to ask if he could help fund Boseman and similar students who could not afford the trip, and Washington agreed. Boseman credited Washington’s generosity to his career, saying that without him, there would be no Black Panther.
“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,” Washington says. “God bless Chadwick Boseman.”
Celebrities outside the acting sphere felt the impact of Chadwick Boseman’s death. Musician, writer, and activist John Legend gave a heartfelt tribute to Boseman via Twitter.
I’m so shocked and heartbroken about Chadwick. He was such a bright light, such a gifted performer. He brought grace, elegance and power to everything he did. He always seemed to carry our ancestors with him. And now he joins them far too soon.— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 29, 2020
The effects of his death were felt even by politicians. The likes of Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama all gave their tributes to Boseman and condolences to family.
Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/C5xGkUi9oZ— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 29, 2020
In his final tweet, Boseman offered his support to Kamala Harris’s vice presidential nomination, making her statement all the more powerful.
Chadwick Boseman was a light in this world and the hero millions of children needed to look up to. He was admired for his strength, kindness, and talent– all things that are even more inspiring given what he went through for the past four years. He was a trailblazer and broke the mold many people never thought they would live to see broken. He is gone too soon, but his legacy will never be forgotten.
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’” —Chadwick Boseman