By Naniyah McClain and Nancy Sanchez-Diaz
Staff Writer and Entertainment Editor
An embodiment of Black joy and pride, FDU students and staff are mourning the loss of Black Panther actor and icon Chadwick Boseman.
“As a black woman, I don’t think anything has hit me harder this year than the loss of Chadwick Boseman,” Lauren Barrett, FDU Alumni, said via text message to The Equinox.
Boseman, who was also a producer, director, and writer, passed away on Friday, Aug. 28 at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Boseman played historical figures such as Jackie Robinson (“42”, 2013), Thurgood Marshall (“Marshall”, 2017) and James Brown (“Get on Up”, 2014).
However, most recognize him for his dazzling performance as King T’Challa in the movie “Black Panther”.
“The role that introduced me to him, like many others, was the Black Panther,” Barrett said. “No longer did Black actors and actresses have to be confined to the degrading role of a villain, a slave, a drug dealer, a sex worker, or the token-piece comedic relief. Thanks to him, we were superheroes.”
Black Panther, which debuted back in 2018, held a black-dominated cast with black talent both in front of and behind the camera.
Boseman, born in Anderson, S.C. on Nov. 29, 1976, graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing.
Actress Phylicia Rashad was one of Boseman’s professors in HU when he won a place in a summer theater course in Balliol College — at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Phylicia Rashad reached out to celebrity friends such as Denzel Washington to cover the costs.
After years of remaining silent, Boseman decided to speak up about the full circle moment on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”. Boseman states that before his famous Rolling Stone Magazine interview, he approached Washington to thank him.
“That’s why I’m here. You owe me money and I came to collect,” said Washington, jokingly.
The crowd roared with laughter.
What most people may not know about Boseman was that he was a drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program from 2002 to 2007. He housed the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, N.Y. before moving to Los Angeles, C.A. to pursue his acting career in 2008.
More than just the latest superhero journey, Black Panther served as a celebration of black culture and a symbol of hope toward a progressive future.
The movie acknowledged everything from “traditional African society to African-American political debates, from the power and beauty of black women to the preservation of identity, all within the lush confines of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.”
With countless other films under his belt, Boseman also played in TV shows such as ER, CSI: NY, and Lincoln Heights.
“From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Despite the multidimensional characters that Boseman adopted and made his own, there was one transcending theme amongst them all: they were beautifully portrayed black icons who taught us about perseverance, compassion, and strength.
“Because of Chadwick, little Black boys and girls can envision themselves as something greater than what they once knew,” Barrett said.
Boseman’s joy, passion, and devotion to the arts will always be cherished.
“In my culture, death is not the end. It’s more of a stepping off point. You can reach out with both hands and Bast and Sekhmet, they lead you into a green velt where you can run forever.” — King T’Challa, Black Panther