“Black Panther,” “42,” “Marshall,” “21 Bridges,” and “Da 5 Bloods” ― all popular and culturally defining films, starring the late Chadwick Boseman.
Boseman began acting when he was 27 years old, and his first role was in a television show titled “Third Watch.” He then became a series regular on the soap opera “All My Children,” but was fired from the role for voicing his concerns about the racist stereotypes the role brought out. He was voicing his concerns for his race and culture before he even had a platform to do it with.
Most would say Boseman’s big break was when he was cast as Jackie Robinson in the film “42.” He brought the struggles of black men to the forefront, and made fans think about their position in society.
Boseman would play even more important black figureheads in his later films. Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” James Brown in “Get on Up,” and finally, the first black superhero on screen, T’Challa in “Black Panther.”
The reason “Black Panther” was such a large cultural event is because young black boys can finally relate to someone on screen and admire them. They could have a hero to look up to that looks like them. For this reason, so many fans went and saw the movie in theaters.
“Black Panther” became the third top grossing movie in the North American box office. This is a huge accomplishment for the movie, as it was up against “Titanic,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and “Avatar.”
Boseman also liked to be a motivator to his followers and fans. For example, he gave a commencement speech at Howard University in 2018. His speech is here if you would like to watch it.
At Howard, Boseman spoke of overcoming challenges and how proud he was of the students for fighting the higher authority at Howard. A quote that resonated with a lot of students was, “throughout ancient times, institutions of learning have been built on top of hills to convey that great struggle is required to achieve degrees of enlightenment.”
Throughout his speech, he built off of this idea and explained how students have to climb a hill to attain success. A lot of his speeches revolve around reaching his highest potential and how he got there.
Boseman passed away from stage four colon cancer on Aug. 28. He was diagnosed in 2016 and hid it from the press and his fans. He achieved so much success and stardom in the four years after his diagnosis. His advice, kind words, and character work will be missed by many.