Chadwick Boseman will be remembered for his strength in his struggle, for offering comfort to those who were sick with the disease he would succumb to, for encouraging young black men everywhere.
He will be remembered for a number of his movie roles: James (Hardest working man in show business!) Brown – a singular talent who was often imitated, never duplicated. Jackie Robinson – who broke down more than one barrier through his baseball career and records. Thurgood Marshall – the man behind Brown vs the Board of Education and the first black Supreme Court Justice (back when the Supreme Court had integrity).
However, the one role he will be remembered for worldwide is the one that he portrayed with courage, dignity and strength – T’Challa, otherwise known as The Black Panther – Prince, then King of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
In this role, he reminded us of the great heritage that we, as black people, are part of. While Wakanda is fictional, it reminds us of the talent and inventiveness of a people whose ideas and inventions have been stolen.
He reminded us of a people who have been made to think that we were nothing, do nothing and have nothing – and that, we have proved, as he did, is a bold-faced LIE. His character was beloved, not only by black, but by people of all colors and races.
I found especially poignant his rescue of Bucky, which developed his relationship with Captain America. Think for a moment of the symbolism – reaching across the color barrier to save and serve those who were not of his own race!
I first knew of Prince T’Challa back in High School, when I was reading Marvel Comics. I read of the character and strength of this African Prince (this was in the 60’s). It made me proud to be a descendant of Kings and Scholars.
To see this character portrayed so well on the screen by Chad Boseman – to see a Black man who destroyed all of the stereotypes that we are taught to believe about ourselves and to do it so well brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, the character was fictional, but Mr. Boseman’s character was not. The ideals that he represented in the characters he played (Marshall, Robinson, T’Challa) are such that should chase everyone to their history books and to the realization that despite obstacles – we have survived.
Chadwick Boseman will be missed and mourned by all. He rests now in the hands of the Creator.
Norman Bumgardner is a member of the Beard’s family who is a huge Science Fiction fan that loves Star Trek, but has eclectic tastes. We have dubbed him Captain Proton.