The phrase “Wakanda Forever” brings a joyous meaning to our hearts representing the fictional country, Wakanda, from the 2018 superhero film “Black Panther.” Now, it means much more than that. It’s a symbol honoring the actor behind the superhero, Chadwick Boseman.
Boseman, an American actor, grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, and decided to study directing at Howard University to later become an actor.
He starred in several shows before having his big break with the inspirational movie, “42.” In the 2013 film, Boseman played Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball. Boseman hit a home run representing the player’s struggle through his athletic journey as a black man with a focus on racial discrimination in the 1940s. After this film, Boseman took it upon himself to continue to represent great black icons throughout history with his movie career.
“That’s the reason why you act. You want to be able to actually identify with the characters that you play and explore humanity,” Boseman said, in a 2013 interview.
The following year, Boseman starred in “Get on Up.” The film followed the life of a black American singer and songwriter, James Brown, also known as the “Godfather of Soul” after he started his career in the 1950s. We get to see Boseman’s talent as he sings and busts a move throughout the movie.
You may have heard of The U.S. Supreme court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, which deemed racial segregation of black and whites at public schools unconstitutional. This was accomplished by the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, in 1954. In the 2017 film, “Marshall,” we see the titular character fight against the court system and defend black men who were falsely accused of harsh crimes due to their skin color. Boseman and Marshall had both graduated from Howard University, giving Boseman an even deeper connection to the role.
Boseman took on many roles such as a drafted football player in “Draft Day” and a Vietnam soldier in “Da 5 Bloods.” He also played a member of the NYPD as he tracks down two cop killers in “21 Bridges” and a bounty hunter in Los Angeles to bring justice to his kidnapped sister in the film “Message from the King.” Of course, we can’t forget his most popular role as King T’Challa in “Black Panther,” which made $1.3 billion in the global box office worldwide and won three academy awards. It was the only Marvel Studios film to receive a best picture Oscar nomination.
Boseman wasn’t just focused on his acting career but had a passion for giving back to his fans and supported children with a terminal illness. Boseman and executive director of “Black Panther,” Nate Moore, partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Boseman sent a text to Nate Moore prior to his death about the work they had done for the children in the foundation, according to AP.
“It broke me, man, but we need to do that for them. People deserve an abundant life, special moments. They’ve been through hell battling disease,” Boseman said in his text. “If we were able to ease their suffering and bring joy for a moment, and hopefully moments as he goes through the bags, then we made a difference in his life.”
Nate Moore said Boseman cared strongly about the work he did to bring smiles to children’s faces, and during COVID-19, he made it a priority to give a child a voice note from T’Challa and a bag of toys.
“No easy feat when we weren’t allowed to leave our homes or go to the office, but Chad figured out how to make it work because he cared so intently, and in hindsight, so personally,” Moore said.
Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016. Cancer progressed to stage four throughout the four years leading to his death on Aug. 28, 2020, at the age of 43. Boseman kept his illness private including from his coworkers. After his death, people who worked alongside him in the movie industry had kind words about the times they shared. Ryan Coogler, director of “Black Panther,” released a statement on who Boseman was as a person and a brilliant actor.
“Because he was a caretaker, a leader and a man of faith, dignity and pride he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life and made great art day after day, year after year. That’s who he was,” Coogler said with admiration. “He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks to the end of my days.”
Boseman’s previous costar in “Captain America: Civil War” and the last two movies in the Avengers series, Chris Evans, had kind words as well.
“A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create.” Evans said.
Rest in Power Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever.