Throughout Black History Month, we are celebrating important figures in Black History and the scholars whose dreams they help make possible. Chadwick Boseman was an actor and playwright most known for his portrayals of Jackie Robinson in ’42’ and King T’Challa in ‘Black Panther.’ Boseman was (and is) a hero who brought history to life and a sense of regalness to the screen.
Chadwick Boseman: A Hero Portraying Heroes
He was Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman portrayed – and embodied – what it is to be a Black legend. He gave Black children across the world a superhero who looked like them. Boseman matched his onscreen performances with off-screen advocacy and pushes for representation. He did it with kindness and humility. And he did it all while quietly battling cancer.
No matter the icon — baseball hero, musical legend, Supreme Court, protector of the world —Boseman could command the role. As Shondaland recounts, he portrayed characters with dignity and nuance. Importantly, he also always acted with the pride of offering another perspective about what it means to be Black in the world.
It takes a special person to command the stories of towering Black heroes. And Boseman was a special person. He brought history to life and allowed millions of people to feel what it is like to live like pathbreaking Black icons. We oohed and awwed when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. We danced and grooved to James Brown and sat in the halls of Justice alongside Thurgood Marshall. And we’ll never forget chanting “Wakanda Forever,” with the first Black superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, King T’Challa.
Off the screen, Boseman spoke about the power people have to fight for change. He advocated for more opportunities for people of color, and gave an iconic Howard University commencement speech. He was every bit of a pathbreaker and pioneer as the icons he portrayed on the screen.
His legacy lives on in young Black actors and in all who watch his mastery and find themselves inspired. Chadwick Boseman showed us greatness, in so many forms, and we will always remember him as a hero.
Max, Fourth Grader
AF East New York Elementary student Max will never forget the first time he watched Black Panther in a theater. He clapped. He cheered during the movie’s climax. And he learned valuable lessons throughout the film.
And in Chadwick Boseman, Max saw a hero who looks like him. He also watched a master of a craft that Max too is working to perfect.
In addition to excelling in his favorite subjects–writing and math–Max enjoys being creative and making movies on his iPad. When he is in movie-making mode, he does it all. Max re-watches films and shows to get some inspiration for his own work. He channels his love of writing into creating scripts. But his favorite part of the process is directing his actors (aka his siblings). As he grows older, Max hopes to continue to add to his filmography, write books, and go to college to hone his movie-making skills.
If Max had to choose a superpower to help Black Panther save the world, he says he would have to choose invisibility. Max’s superpowers are creativity, setting a good example for his classmates, and staying involved with his community.
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