Chadwick Boseman’s Memory Lives On

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Lara Kammen

On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away after a four-year long battle with colon cancer. Boseman most famously starred as T’Challa in the 2018 film, “Black Panther”, but he was more than just an actor. He was an inspiration to Black youth all over the world — a hero both on and off the screen. Despite Boseman’s passing, his memory and work will live on forever. 

While the list of superhero movies goes on and on, until “Black Panther” was released, the representation of Black characters in these films was limited. Out of the few Black characters that there are, few of them serve as the main character, and even fewer of them are in the most popular blockbusters This lack of representation is damaging to Black youth, as it sends the message that certain races are not as welcome in society as others. Additionally, it can affect kids’ mental health and self esteem: it’s harmful when you don’t see people that you can identify with that are successful in life. PBS interviewed various middle and high school students on their opinions about representation in film. One of the interviewees, Kimore Willis, stated that “It just makes you feel like, ‘Why don’t I see anybody like me?’ [It] kind of like brings your self-esteem down.” Willis’ response was echoed by many other students that were interviewed. 

However, future generations will be able to look at Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa and not only see a superhero, but a role model and a leader. While T’Challa is an amazing superhero, Boseman’s performance was what truly brought this character to life. His devotion and commitment to the character shined through, and everyone who watched Black Panther could see Boseman’s passion and hard work in his embodiment of T’Challa. 

Boseman’s impact undoubtedly reached the people in our very own community as well.   Kaylyn Beckford, a Black student at the School describes him as “powerful” and a “role model” as well as a “worldwide phenomenon.” “It was extremely uplifting to see so many Black boys dressed up as Black Panther,” she said. 

While Boseman himself was not a superhero, he exemplified Black Panther in real life through his kind and selfless nature. The hard work that Boseman put into his films even while undergoing cancer treatments is one of the many amazing things that he has done. He made hundreds of visits to kids suffering from terminal illnesses, demonstrating his desire to both inspire and uplift others despite his own struggles. His commencement speech at Howard University is yet another example of how he strived to influence the next generation of black leaders. One striking quote from his speech was: “Many of you will leave Howard and enter systems and institutions that have a history of discrimination and marginalization.” He continued by saying that “You can use your education to improve the world that you are entering.” While Boseman is sadly no longer with us, his memory will continue to uplift and inspire Black youth for decades.