Chadwick Boseman: The lasting impact of a life well-lived

Disney / Marvel Studios Chadwick Boseman as King Tchalla

“The King is dead. The King of Love is Dead.” —Nina Simone

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the death of Chadwick Boseman who passed away on Friday, August 28, after enduring a four-year battle with colon cancer.

In 2020, Boseman’s death hit the Black community especially hard—another heart-hitting tragedy in a list of catastrophic events that have happened just this year.

Following the 2020 March on Washington, the continued blustering fight for civil rights, and just weeks before a high stakes presidential election, his life and death prove powerfully relevant. “I look at Chadwick Boseman as someone who lived as a king,” said Leonard Searcy, local television, and film actor.

Praised for playing some of the most iconic roles in Black history including Jackie Robinson in the movie “42,” James Brown in the hit film “Get on Up” and of course, T’Challa in the 2018 Marvel film “Black Panther,” Boseman’s life was not only an incredible Hollywood success, but a living example of Black excellence for the world to see on the silver screen.

Natalie Morrow, founder of the Twin Cities Black Film Festival and Twin Cities Black Fashion week, has not only had the opportunity to both premiere and promote each one of Boseman’s films locally, but she also bears the privilege of having had a serendipitous encounter with Boseman himself at a VIP Hollywood premiere for the movie “Birth of a Nation.”

 “It was the true premiere in Hollywood and standing directly behind me in line was Chadwick Boseman. He was in a black tie; he looked exquisite,” she recalled. “He’s extremely humble…what people say about him, it really is true.” she said.

Kory Laquess Pullam is a local actor who has worked with many theatres throughout the Twin Cities, including the Guthrie, Children’s Theater Company and Penumbra Theatre, to name a few. After acting in the Twin Cities for seven years, Pullam has recently returned to his roots in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Looking back on [Boseman’s] life and his contributions, so much of what I’m thinking about, is not even about him in movies, so much as the speeches he would give at colleges, or things he would say in interviews. Just the joy and genuine nature that he had as a person.” said Pullam. “In Hollywood…it’s easy to forget where you came from and who you are. And something that I always respected about Chadwick Boseman is that he never lost sense of who he was and what his purpose was.”

To much surprise, it is only after Boseman’s passing that the general public is learning about his four-year battle with colon cancer, that he largely kept under wraps, “That’s what makes him a superhero in real life, you know. No one knew,” said Morrow.

Despite his sickness, Boseman continued to represent Black culture with grace and integrity. And because of this, in his death, his life became an example of what it looks like, to live with purpose.

 “It’s a significant loss to our community, but he wouldn’t want us to just sit, and wallow,” said Pulluam.

“He’s a true example of Black excellence in real life,” said Morrow.

“But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.” —T’Challa in “Black Panther”

About Tiffany Johnson

Tiffany Johnson is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder. She can be reached at tjohnson@spokesman-recorder.com.

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