by Patrick Fuller ’21 A&E Co-Editor
After the unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman on August 28, 2020 at the age of 43, many celebrities testified to his unparalleled contributions to film. Jada Pinkett Smith tweeted, “Rest in Love Chadwick.” Jordan Peele, Academy Award winner and cinema revolutionary in his own right, captured the sorrow of Hollywood in admitting, “This is a crushing blow.” Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Dwyane Wade, and Martin Luther King III all expressed similar sentiments over social media. Hearing the raw emotion of the Black community in entertainment put Boseman’s legacy into perspective.
Not only did Boseman portray characters of immense cultural impact, he embodied the perseverance, determination, and bravery of those figures in his own life. Boseman made a convincing social justice advocate and charismatic leader in a wide range of roles from former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, to the first Black Major League Baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, to the momentous King T’Challa of Wakanda in Black Panther. As if stepping into such large roles was not difficult enough, Boseman did so while undergoing chemotherapy and countless surgeries, according to a statement released by his family. Knowing he endured such hardship while filming makes his death that much more heartbreaking and his performances that much more admirable. He fought for social justice on and off the screen, downplaying his personal battles in a selfless act of humility.
In an address to Howard University’s graduating class of 2018, Boseman stated, “Purpose is the essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
Although he may not physically be on this planet anymore, Boseman undoubtedly fulfilled his purpose, giving voice and strength to the Black community in a time of crisis. His impact transcended film, shining light on racial power dynamics in real life so that Wakanda will truly one day be forever.