Shortly before the anniversary of Chadwick Boseman’s death, Simone Ledward Boseman, the wife of the late actor, paid tribute to him in a performance on the Stand Up To Cancer telecast. Performing a cover of Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ on the livestream, she was introduced by actor Anthony Anderson who gave a heartfelt speech about the late Chadwick Boseman. Anderson stated, “Many of us were devastated to learn of Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing after he privately grappled with cancer for several years”.
“The world lost an incredible artist and a true hero. But before he was a public figure, he was a person like you or me – a son, a brother, uncle, cousin, friend, colleague, husband,” Anderson concluded.
It’s an ode to Chadwick Boseman’s incredible cultural impact that his death still feels pertinent in popular culture, with fans across the world mourning the life of an incredible figure. Famous for his iconic portrayal of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boseman had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, keeping his condition separate from his public life.
The fifth highest-grossing superhero film ever made, Boseman’s Black Panther became more than a movie character, transforming into a representation of the Black community in the highly hegemonised world of Hollywood. Boseman lived in Brooklyn and worked as the drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York, at the beginning of his career, spending much of his time teaching black history. Such led him to his very first feature film role in the 2013 effort 42, where he depicted the real-life baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson in an inspirational biopic that would spark his career.
Six years later, his fantastic performance in the racially pertinent 42 would help him to secure the role of T’Challa (AKA Black Panther) in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, the character’s very first appearance in the superhero universe. Later commandeering his own solo venture,
Black Panther, released in 2016, Boseman would help secure the film a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars whilst eliciting a powerful commentary about the evils of colonialism and the liberation of the Black community.
During a press conference in LA in 2018, the actor stated about the role, “There was a time period where people would ask me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character who spoke with that accent…I became adamant about the fact that that is not true”. As a result, Black Panther was heralded as a total gamechanger for the superhero sub-genre, a film that transcended cinema and accessed the core of the cultural zeitgeist.
Masks of the iconic superhero have since been used to symbolise the continued efforts for civil rights whilst also being adopted for celebratory scenes across the world. The influential life of Chadwick Boseman is one that inspired more than cinematic greatness, his genuine efforts for civil equality has made him a cultural revolutionary. His colourful personality and voice for social change will be forever missed.