The Black Panther actor passed away from colon cancer last week
by Neil Khilwani
It is with a heavy heart that I write this article. As I am sure you all already know, legendary actor Chadwick Boseman passed away on August 28th, 2020 from Colon Cancer at the age of 44. This sorrowful news seemed to appear suddenly leaving us all shocked as his family first announced news of his passing through his twitter account. For four years, Boseman battled cancer enduring multiple surgeries all while working on films such as Black Panther, Avengers Infinity War, Avengers Endgame, Gods of Egypt, etc. Through all of this, he kept his diagnosis hidden from the public, showing just how hardcore he was.
Boseman was an ardent devotee of acting, and this passion propagated on-screen with powerful performances from Jackie Robinson in 42, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, James Brown in Get on Up, and of course his most illustrious role as King T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Holding an appreciation for the craft in a time where many people only chase it for fame and success.
As I mentioned before, none of us expected this news because none of us knew that Chadwick Boseman had cancer. He kept this hidden because if the media knew what he was suffering from, then his identity would have been compartmentalized as the actor with cancer. He was also playing a superhero on screen that many kids idealize and he did not want to take that away from them.
Members of the Marvel family issued their statements. Kevin Feige wrote that “Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy…. Nobody was better at bringing great men to life.” Disney CEO Bob Iger tweeted, “He brought enormous strength, dignity, and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes.”
When he was not on screen, Boseman visited Children’s hospital to work with kids battling stage III cancer while simultaneously dealing with stage III cancer himself. Seeing how meaningful Black Panther was for them, Boseman spoke about how this was a humbling experience for him that motivated him to make the movie the best it could be for these kids.
Perhaps one of the most respectable aspects of Boseman’s acting career was that he played powerful black characters. This is a testament to the man that he was; someone who refused to play characters that were stereotypical or demeaning to African Americans even if it meant hurting his career in the short run. Even a blind man can see how racially selective Hollywood is with who they choose to be the leads in movies, but Chadwick Boseman worked Hard and courageously his whole career to ensure that the roles he played were positive representations of his people. That is a lesson any struggling minority actor can learn from. He was someone who appreciated acting for the art and wanted to be the best actor he could be for
Blacks and the world and this certainly paid off when he was cast in his first lead role as Jackie Robinson in 42. The once novice playwright who was a student at Howard University had come a long way and we all know the rest of the story from there as roles such as Jackie Robinson attracted the attention of the Marvel executives.
Black Panther was not just another film addition to the Marvel collection. Not only was it a movie that featured a Black superhero in a world dominated by Caucasian superheroes, but director Ryan Coogler also described it as a superhero film “that deals with issues of being of African descent.” And Boseman’s role in this film was to bring these issues and stories to life, which we can all agree he did phenomenally. The true impact of this role is best summed up by Boseman when he discussed how the film was not just an “escape” but something “to give people hope.” Not to mention the fact that the movie grossed over 1.3 billion dollars, showing Hollywood the impact and power of giving films such as this the platform they deserve. It was not just a movie, but a movement that Chadwick Boseman’s role was essential for and will never be forgotten.
And so, while it is a solemn story to say that Chadwick Boseman has passed away, his legacy and the lessons he taught us will never fade. Forever, he will serve as a symbol of hope in the black community for his role as T’Challa. He demonstrated what an actor truly is: someone who pursues the field as an art rather than seeking attention and material rewards. A reminder not to sell yourself out when it means compromising your integrity. And finally, to never give up and to keep fighting with purpose until the very end. RIP Chadwick Boseman. Your time here has passed, but we will remember you always, King.