In as much as my writing is cathartic, healing in some small form as my thoughts fill the white spaces on this computer screen, another of life’s lessons unfold. As I continue, the pause, deep and weighted with emotions, reminds me, this was not the article I sat to complete, but it is the one that needed to be shared.
Last night, 08/28/20, I was chatting away when the news flashed across my phone, Chadwick Boseman, 43 died. Out of nowhere, an immediate, “NO!” escaped me. This garbage couldn’t be real. Living in a culture of “information overload” and the all too real “fake news,” we have become desensitized to everything that should matter while giving the utmost importance to that which doesn’t.
Like billions across the globe, I dismissed this information as horrific “fake news.” Thinking to myself, in the perilous state of the present time, how or why could anyone be so cruel? In between news of continuing nationwide protests, political shenanigans, economic collapses, pandemic devastation with no end in sight, cries for justice with equality for and/from African Americans in the U.S. came the confirmation, Mr. Chadwick Boseman, a family man, an actor, a philanthropist, passed.
Like billions across the globe, I didn’t know Mr. Boseman personally. We weren’t able to wave hello, converse at length the mysteries of life, nor share that intimate friendship each of us should invest in throughout our lives, funnier still his alma mater right in my backyard. He walked the same streets I had so many times before. It tickles me to think we may have crossed paths in D.C. at least once. I take immense pleasure in saying I’ve seen nearly the complete catalog of Mr. Boseman’s work. It’s in his body of work, a piece of him remains etched in our hearts, memory, and history.
The legacy of Chadwick Boseman’s work, his filmography, is that intimate connection leaping from each iconic role straight into our core giving us pause from life to capture real mastery of a soul who took nothing for granted. He harnessed his craft in such a way that every role he embodied, transported you to that place, time, and struggle.
Whether we sat next to him as Jackie Robinson in the dugout, alongside future Justice Thurgood Marshall in that racist southern courtroom, having our pay docked by the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, we were there. Saving a certain young prince jolted to King by another of life’s unfortunate events, it was we who stood alongside other nobles of Wakanda to greet and welcome, King T’Challa, a.k.a The Black Panther, superhero into our hearts and history. I think it was no coincidence Chadwick, if I may be so informal, choose roles that challenged the audience to relive, recap, and review the lives of these African American men overcoming insurmountable odds towards progress not entirely their own. In hindsight, as fans pay homage watching his movies once more, ask yourself, have we truly learned from the past?
Like billions across the globe, we got to know Chadwick Boseman through interviews, appearances, and press junkets. We were able to glimpse this humble, gracious soul that never devalued time, human connection, nor opportunity. Each of us identified with his authenticity, no small feat in a world of make-believe. He gave us access to his purpose, and we were just thankful to enjoy the ride. At the historic 150th commencement for Howard University, his alma mater Chadwick dropped countless life gems to send graduates along their way into a life uncertain, endless with possibilities. “Purpose” wasn’t a catchphrase, but in his words, “the essential element of life.”
Like the billions across the globe, we saw hope sparkling in his eyes, knowing what he was accomplishing in life was significant, against odds we weren’t privy to know. Like the iconic roles of iconic figures Chadwick portrayed from our past, he too becomes a template, a role model, a one-of-a-kind who’s path illuminates the way for countless others on his heels. Mr. Chadwick Boseman’s presence and departure come at a time when this country, on the brink of chaotic destruction in one form or another, earnestly retches at yet another loss in a year of hundreds of thousands. One has but to scroll any social media platform seeing tribute after tribute. You could also see reminders to be more kind, judge less, be more empathetic to everyone.
I dare each of us to take note of the life and legacy of Chadwick Boseman. Hopefully, aligning our purpose with a daily appreciation for life. I dare us to believe we can do better and become better representations of ourselves. Yes, we will make mistakes, be gentle with ourselves when we do, don’t keep making the same mistakes. I dare us not to reserve our equality and fairness for only those that look or act like us because we’re missing vital life-changing connections. As an African-American woman seeing history created and often repeated before my eyes, I’m grateful for humble souls like Mr. Chadwick Boseman. His purpose helps me straighten my posture, dig deeper to complete my work, smile brighter, and share my gift with others, not wanting to depart until I do.
Like billions across the globe, Thank you, Mr. Chadwick Boseman, thank you. Well done, Young King, well done.