|photo by Gage Skidmore|
Like many of you, I was shocked when I read about the death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.
I am sad to say that I have not seen most of the movies he has been in, including his star turns in Marshall, Get on Up, and 42. I primarily know him from his four film appearances as King T'Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And yet, I still feel a strong sense of loss and sadness. One of the reasons movie actors become celebrities is because we form an emotional bond with them. The job of an actor is to move you, to pull at your heartstrings in some way or another. This creates an sense of artistic intimacy, where the actor makes themself vulnerable and emotionally open on the screen and we feel a connection.
Everyone I know, even those who are not big fans of the MCU, praise Boseman's performance as Black Panther. He was not like the other heroes. He was not flippant and quippy. He held himself with regal dignity while being incredibly approachable. Boseman portrayed T'Challa as a man of honor and someone that others would believably follow as king.
Boseman would have been diagnosed with the colon cancer that killed him around the same time he was filming Black Panther. It is so ironic that this disease came into his life while starring in the highest grossing film for the year it premiered, even more than Avengers: Infinity War. But he kept his sickness a secret. Director James Gunn noted that Boseman was struggling with cancer the entire time he knew him and Boseman never let on. The last time most of us remember seeing Boseman was in Avengers: Endgame, where he was in full super hero form. So it makes it even more shocking when the secret was revealed upon his death.
There is something incredibly stoic about his decision to keep this private. If he wanted to, he could have shared his diagnosis and he would have been bathed in the affections of millions of fans around the world. No one would blame him for that, to seek comfort and prayers from the world.
But instead, he suffered in silence. His life was locked away from the public eye. He carried his cross without drawing attention to himself. He met a woman shortly before his diagnosis. They married in secret sometime in the last year or so. I can understand wanting to give what time you have to the people you love.
And yet, he still did a lot of work in this time. He saw Black Panther as an opportunity to truly inspire children around the world, to give them a strong role model. It is from this perspective that you can see nobility in the profession of acting.
I do not know much else about Boseman's personal life, politics, and lifestyle. However, I do know that he was a Christian man. Apparently he was a practicing believer throughout his life. You can see this in his speech he gave at a commencement address at Howard University. And I think it is best to leave you with these words of his:
Oftentimes, the mind is flooded with realizations that were, for some reason, harder to come to when you were at a lower elevation. At this moment, most of you need some realizations because right now you have some big decisions to make. Right now, I urge you in your breath, in your eyes, in your consciousness -- invest in the importance of this moment and cherish it. I know some of you might've partied last night. You should, you should celebrate, but this moment is also a part of that celebration. So, savor the taste of your triumphs today. Don't just swallow the moment whole without digesting what has actually happened here. Look down over what you conquered and appreciate what God has brought you through....
Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..."
When God has something for you, it doesn't matter who stands against it. God will move someone that's holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you if it's meant for you.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Chadwick Boseman, rest in peace.