Remembering Chadwick Boseman
Updated: May 27, 2022
When I first saw Chadwick Boseman, he played James Brown in "Get On Up." I didn't know who he was. I thought he was just another obscure actor who happened to look most like the historical figure. I never thought I would see his face again.
Then, one day I was scrolling mindlessly on OnDemand searching for a movie, and I came across "Marshall." The entire time I watched it, I thought to myself, 'where do I know this actor from?' A quick google search told me it was the same guy who played James Brown in "Get On Up." I had that gratifying feeling you get when you realize you were right about something. However, the name Chadwick Bosman still did not stay with me.
It wasn't until videos of the "Black Panther" Press Tour started appearing on my YouTube recommended that the name Chadwick Bosman began to stick with me. He was the first black superhero with a major motion picture. The movie even had great advertising and was getting pushed by the media. It gave the impression that this was not a low-budget Marvel movie made just for the diversity, and it would be of the same caliber as the other MCU movies. The best part about it was that the film was good. It was in no way a throwaway movie.
During the press tour, Chadwick came off as joyful and knowledgeable of the movie's impact, making him the perfect symbol of black excellence. People rushed to the theatres to watch "Black Panther." It was the must-see movie of 2018. "Black Panther" Halloween costumes, cosplayers, and birthday parties were showing up everywhere. Black people were proud of Chadwick Bosman as Black Panther and the sheer amount of representation in the movie.
Obviously, I'm not black, so I wasn't the intended representation of the movie, but it impacted me greatly as a person of color and media enthusiast. Before "Black Panther," I had never seen a film with an entirely black cast. Let alone a superhero movie. Of course, there are comedies like the Madea movies that have a primarily black cast, but it wasn't the same. Black Panther was a serious superhero. There were people who looked like some of my family members, like my friends, like the people I grew up with on the big screen getting celebrated, not made fun of. It was a piece of history.
Like everyone, I was devastated when Chadwick Boseman unexpectedly died of cancer. I went on a deep-dive on the internet to find any clues or hints that we were all too blind to see. Unfortunately, there wasn't much. He was a very private man, only ever made headlines when a new movie was coming out.
I always knew why Chadwick Boseman was important to me, but it wasn't until I read "Why Chadwick Boseman's Death Hurts So Much" on BuzzFeed that I realized just how much. After all that time, I still hadn't put together that the actor who played James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and Black Panther were all the same. He also played Jackie Robinson in "4".
As far as I could tell, Boseman was not an outspoken activist of black pride. His interviews and media appearances were not very political. However, he used his medium and platform to inform his audience of black history entertainingly. We may not have noticed it, but he clearly had a mission and deliberately chose movies that fit it. To complete his mission so incredibly with Black Panther while enduring cancer treatment is a testament to his strength, resilience, and commitment to his message.
I thought his face and name would be lost in the mass list of unknown actors, but I was thankfully wrong. You never know who will become a classic person in black history.
Chadwick Boseman has become another classic person in black history.