(AllHipHop Opinion) I only kinda met Chadwick Boseman once. I remember it clearly. The year was 2015. It was right after the NBA All-Star Game, which had just ended. Many of us cleared out of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to the subway train back towards Manhattan. When my friend and I got on the train, I soon realized Chadwick Boseman was there too with his friends.
Anyway, Chadwick was a star in the Black community for playing iconic roles, actual real-life trailblazing superheroes, like Jackie Robinson in “42” (2013), James Brown in “Get On Up” (2014) and eventually Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” (2017). I was tuned in to who was in our presence, but nobody on the train paid much attention, as far as I could see. As a comic head, I was keen that another hero – Black Panther – was coming. The rumor was, Chadwick would play the fictional African King T’Challa aka the Black Panther and that had everyone in my other, non-Hip-Hop excited early on. So, I asked him if he was going to be portraying the ruler, not revealing that I was the owner of one of the most popular Hip-Hop sites. Chadwick gave me my answer while clearly lying. He smiled broadly, guiltily with “Nahhhhhhh” as his answer. I knew he was saying yes.
There are so many things that could be said about Chadwick Boseman, but I believe we have to contextualize this a bit. According to reports, he was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago. The majority of his superstardom came after this horrific, private revelation. His hardest, most impactful work came when he was apparently suffering.
The only thing is, he was truly living – not dying – and crafting his eternal path. Many chastise or judge those of us that mourn celebrities like family or friends. I do not, not just because I am one of those folks, but also since I always extract the lesson from these gems made of flesh and bone. Chadwick inspired us. And, I am not even talking about him as a Howard University grad or a doting husband. His energy and magic came through entertainment and I won’t allow that to be minimized.
“Black Panther” was a movement, not just a movie and Chadwick Boseman was a conduit. We rallied around this project as if we had stock in Marvel.
As a bridge, he and others created a universal atmosphere for us to celebrate our Blackness unapologetically and see a future that harkens to past glory in the form of Wakanda. I have not seen so much pride among Black people overall since the 80’s, which was re-sparked by Hip-Hop. So, although he was a thespian, he was also a vessel. I believe he knew that, quite possibly, as he suffered from a wretched disease that would take his life.
His performances in Marvel’s “Civil War,” “Infinity War,” and “Endgame” also gave us pride (as well as his non-Marvel characters). Chadwick was a KING that played a superhero. Respectfully, it was different than other Black super-characters largely rooted in stereotypes and minimization. And while he seemed tired of it, he still threw up, “Wakanda Forever.” He understood the gravity of the matter as he quietly fought his ailment.
I was there on that amazing day, an event hosted at Sirius XM. Chadwick really showed his humanity and perhaps, in hindsight, his mortality. He kept living. I am not sure what kept him motivated, but conviction is mighty powerful. “The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose,” Chadwick Boseman said at the 2018 Howard University Commencement. He had an inner resolve that was more intense, more potent than his roles.
We last saw Chadwick Boseman as “Stormin Normin Earl Holloway” in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” and will see him again in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” an August Wilson play-turned-film. I am going to miss Chadwick Boseman. He was a light. He truly inspired me after charting his pathway to greatness as well as that of the common friends we shared.
His death – the depth of his commitment – only adds to his legacy. We, the fans, have a wondrous, educational, and inspirational body of work in film, television, and real-life to draw from. Seeing him at press events, I realized that he was a King just like the role of T’Challa and his handlers treated him as such. He even died on Jackie Robinson Day 2020, which is a twist of irony only God could script.
I pray for our collective healing as I envision Chadwick Boseman going to the ancestors, home. I pray for his family, friends, and his loved ones. I pray for us all. Rest In Power, Chadwick.
Chadwick Boseman Forever!
THANK YOU! @FanBrosShow @BrooklynNAACP, @BlackGirlNerds, @UniversalFanCon, and @BLERDSMeet for a wonderfully positive and uplifting screening of @theblackpanther. My daughter and I had a GREAT TIME at #CrownWakanda! #WakandaForever #BlackPanther pic.twitter.com/Eb8bqvcCPD
— CHUCK JIGSAW CREEKMUR (@chuckcreekmur) February 16, 2018