Chadwick Boseman - Forever

Chadwick Aaron Boseman died on August 28th, 2020, of stage IV colon cancer, at the tender age of 43. He was an icon and a hero to millions. Gather 'round; I'm going to attempt the impossible and try to do justice to his legacy.

We live in desperate, lonely times. Every one of us, whether we know it or not, seeks connection. We have lost faith in our institutions, and we're very close to losing faith in one another. While COVID-19 dominates the headline, there is another ailment sweeping the globe: alienation. It has become more and more difficult to trust our fellow man, to display vulnerability, to forgive. We need someone we can look to, someone to latch onto, someone to admire. We need a hero.

For many Americans, Chadwick Boseman was that hero. He portrayed some of the most important figures in this nation's history; Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Floyd Little (if you're a Broncos fan) and my favorite baseball player of all time: Jackie Robinson. Robinson, one of the greatest second basemen who ever played, wore the number 42. Odds are you know that number, not because of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but because odds are you are an American (if you're reading this blog), and baseball is our national pastime. I say our: this game does not belong to one race or one creed - it belongs to all of us. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier not just because he was just as good as the white players - he broke the color barrier because he was better. Robinson did that and became a hero to millions. We see the number 42 displayed with honor in our baseball stadiums, and we know inherently its significance: he left a mark not just on baseball history, but on our cultural history.



Similarly, Black Panther was a mark not only upon cinematic history, but upon cultural history. Cast your mind back to 2018. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was arguably at its peak popularity, and no name was hotter than Black Panther. Not Thor, not Captain America, not The Hulk, but Black Panther. It helps that the movie was pretty good, to be sure, but remember that it wasn't just a normal release: it was an event. Remember African-Americans proudly dressing up for that movie. Remember the black parents saying finally, a hero for our children. Sure, they can have Spider-Man or Iron Man, but it's nice to have someone who looks like you. Representation really does matter. 

You'll have to forgive me; I'm not very good at this sort of thing. It's a little hard to comment on this. I know what I am. I'm probably the whitest guy you'll ever meet, whatever that means. I can't pretend that I know the struggles of African-Americans or any other minority figure in this country. I can't act like I fully understand the full significance of this man's importance. What I can do, however, is two things: I can watch, and I can listen.



Watch their reactions. Listen to their words. It's not easy to look at the headlines and twitter videos and think that there is an abundance of affection in this nation right now. For all of the animus, distrust, and strife, we seem to have neglected the most powerful feeling that we as humans have been endowed with: love. That's the most basic simplification of why there are protests today: black people have so much love in their hearts, and they're sick of seeing that love cut down - senselessly, ruthlessly. Love - and the loss of love - is what provokes these strong reactions. We're constantly told that there is so much hate in the world. That might be true. But there is, at the same time, so much love in the world, and it's so clearly on display in the video posted above.

There's even more: Boseman made Black Panther while he was still in stage III, then made more movies after that. He visited and comforted children with terminal cancer, giving them a chance to meet a hero, to know that someone powerful knew of them and cared for them before they went into darkness. Remember those hideous pieces that explained that he looked so tired while doing the Wakanda Forever pose on the red carpet because he was exhausted by Marvel fans? No one seemed to consider what he was going through. No one seemed to consider that he knew his time on this plane of existence was limited, and he selflessly devoted what remained of his life toward enriching other people's lives through his performances and his charitable acts. That's what a hero does.



In his life, Chadwick Boseman was a hero to people who desperately needed one. His death has not changed that; he lives in our hearts and souls as an example of what we can be, of the greatness that we must strive toward because we can strive toward that greatness. Most importantly, he will live on as a hero handed down to this nation's children and grandchildren. He will be an example listed alongside Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Louis Gossett, Jr.

Chadwick Boseman reigns over the past, present, and future. That's a pretty impressive kingdom.

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