The life and legacy of Chadwick Boseman

Kidi Tafesse

Arts & Entertainment Editor


This year has been filled with unexpected challenges and even more  unexpected losses. One of those losses was actor Chadwick  Boseman at the young age of 43 on Aug 28, 2020. A four-year battle with colon cancer is no easy feat, but playing moving, meaningful roles the way Boseman did is something that takes an inconceivable amount of passion and love for one’s art. This is something that became even more pronounced following his diagnosis with cancer. Despite keeping the news out of the public eye, Boseman played in seven different movies including two major Marvel productions.

His legacy will forever live through his family, through those that remember him on a personal level and through the murals and paintings being created to pay homage across the world. But for most people, his onscreen work will be what symbolizes the life and legacy of Boseman.

A graduate of Howard University, Boseman’s talent with directing preceded his breakthrough roles as an actor. Some of his early works with directing were plays that reached varying degrees of success such as Deep Azure, which after airing in the Congo Square Theater Company in Chicago earned him a 2006 Jeff Award nomination, Hieroglyphic Graffiti, which was part of the hip-hop theatre movement, and of course some older classic plays such as
Macbeth, The Colored Museum and Romeo and Juliet. After some minor but consistent roles in TV shows such as Lincoln Heights and Law and Order, it was not until around 2013 that he landed major roles such as 42, the autobiographical story of Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to make it to the Major leagues, singer James Brown in Get on Up with the tutelage and direction of Tate Taylor, Thoth in Gods of Egypt and more.

However, the role of King T’Challa, the ruler of a futuristic, highly advanced African state known as Wakanda, is perhaps what  Boseman is best known for playing. After a brief appearance in Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America: Civil War, the origin story of King T’Challa finally came to fruition. As a result, Marvel’s Black Panther reached record-breaking success and was hailed as an incredibly well done movie and was also commended for its positive depiction of African-American and African culture. I know, for me at
least, there is a distinguishable difference between the representation that comes as a result of having a Black actor in a superhero movie and the one that comes when the role itself is inherently centered around blackness, so it’s understandable that from all of his incredible roles, Black Panther is the one often
talked about. However, while these movies are absolute must
sees, his rise to prominence through influential roles existing in simultaneity with his silent battle with cancer will forever show his resilience and courage.

Chadwick Boseman is survived by his wife and family members.