NEWS        #Wakanda Forever

By W. McNair

The world found out on Friday, August 28, 2020 that a king had died. This king was an unlikely but needed one during a time of racial turmoil in our country. Although many say that he was only a fictional character, many young children and older adults alike looked up to him as a kind and gentle soul, who fought with strength and resilience until the bitter end. As the king of Wakanda portrayed in the movie, Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman exemplified a quiet confidence that brought encouragement to all who knew him both on screen and in life.

Chadwick was born on November 29, 1976 in South Carolina. Before graduating from high school, he had written his first play, Crossroads.  He attended Howard University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. One of his professors, the prominent actress Phylicia  Rashad, helped him get the money for a summer program at Oxford University in London by contacting another prominent actor, Denzel Washington. Boseman said that "there would be no Black Panther without Denzel Washington." Chadwick went on to act in roles for television and film. However, in 2013 he made a stellar appearance in 42 as the legendary Black baseball player Jackie Robinson. Then, he made another exceptional performance as the soulful singer-songwriter James Brown in Get on Up in 2014 and as civil rights activist and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Thurgood Marshall in the movie Marshall in 2017. His defining role was as T'Chalia, king of Wakanda, in Marvel Comics Black Panther in 2018. He continued acting in the films Avengers: Infinity Wars (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), 21 Bridges (2019), Da 5 Bloods (2020), and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom set to be released this year on Netflix.

After being diagnosed with stage III colon cancer, his subsequent roles reminded us of Black men who have changed the course of history by paving a way for others. How paradoxical that his greatest performances occurred during his greatest times of testing. During a time of racial tension in the United States, he represented the hope of a powerful, intelligent, and just Black leader who deserved and received respect as King T'Chalia. This was not just while our country has been experiencing great testing but while he suffered in silence and dignity. Everyone is saying that they did not know what he was going through. Isn't this a true example of kingship when you can be in the battle of your life and continue to push forward?

Many have been expressing their admiration for him during this time of remembrance. Denzel Washington remembered Chadwick: “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.” Director Brian Helgeland admired Chadwick's bravery when he auditioned two times for 42. He commented that Chadwick was such a good person and a great actor, and he hoped that people told him how much he inspired them while he was alive--not only in his death. His family described him as "a true fighter" in the last tweet on his Twitter account.