by Ishena Robinson —
Chadwick Boseman, the award-winning leading man from Howard who portrayed inspiring Black figures in movies like Marshall, 42, Get On Up, and the culture shifting Black Panther, has died from colon cancer at 43 years old.
Boseman’s death was announced on his official Instagram page on Friday night, in a post which revealed that the actor had been battling with the illness since 2016.
Boseman died in his home with his family and wife by his side.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” read the announcement about his passing. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
Boseman’s death feels like a massive blow to Black people everywhere—in a year when we’ve already lost so much—because it is. His iconic turn as King T’Challa in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther became a worldwide movement of joy and celebration for members all across the African diaspora, and was a symbol of strength and goodness for little children everywhere.
While we all grapple with this deep loss, there is still inspiration to be taken from Boseman’s clear commitment to using his immense talents to tell stories to, about, and for Black people.
“There’s a hero here that I hope people grow to love,” Boseman once said of his portrayal of T’Challa.
His prophetic words now also accurately capture what Boseman himself means to us, given the clear depth of love he had for his people which he exhibited with hard work and impressive skill even while experiencing his own health struggles.
Boseman was born in South Carolina and graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C. He won awards from the NAACP and Screen Actors Guild for his performance in Black Panther, and also returned to his memorable role as T’Challa in the massively successful Avengers movies. His most recent film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is scheduled to air on Netflix this year.
(Ishena Robinson: Writer, speaker, finesser, and a fly dresser. Jamaican-American currently chilling in Chicago.)