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World Loses Distinguished Actor and Profound Humanitarian

Purpose-Driven Chadwick Boseman Dies at 43

Known to many as a great actor, Chadwick A. Boseman was also the epitome of a role model, leader and activist. He died on August 28, 2020, at the age of 43, after a four-year, quiet battle with colon cancer.

Boseman was born on November 29, 1976 in Anderson, South Carolina. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in Directing from Howard University in Washington, DC in 2000. Phylicia Rashad was a teacher and mentor to Boseman. She helped to raise funds, notably from her friend and actor Denzel Washington, so that Boseman and other classmates could attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London. After he returned to the U.S., he graduated from New York City’s Digital Film Academy.

Wanting to write and direct, he studied acting to know how to relate to actors, he was a drama instructor in Schomburg Junior Scholars Program, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting in 2008. He had roles in episodes of Third Watch, Law & Order, CSI: NY, ER, Lincoln Heights, Persons Unknown and his first film, The Express. His first starring role was the film 42 in 2013 in which he played Jackie Robinson. In 2014, he co-starred in Draft Day and as James Brown in Get on Up. In 2016, he starred as Thoth in Gods of Egypt and in Captain America: Civil War and in Marvel’s Black Panther in 2018. In 2017, he played Civil Rights attorney and first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall in the film Marshall.

He earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. His final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is scheduled to be released soon, posthumously.

Boseman had an awesome grip on his personal plight and the plight of Black America. His conscience led him to turn down roles that he felt were demeaning to Black America, citing that false stereotypes can easily be thought as reality. He challenged the roles whereby Blacks were depicted as victims with no hopes and talents. He proudly held out for roles that empowered our culture.

In May 2018, Boseman received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Howard University and was the commencement speaker. He delivered an outstanding speech that encouraged the graduates and all that listened. He spoke at “the Hilltop” about hard work, determination and endurance, climbing the academic slope to greatness. Boseman stated that many students have various struggles, impediments, obstacles… grades, financial and social struggles. He commented about carrying the baggage of trauma, scars and bruises “up the hill”, saying, “When completing a long climb, one first experiences dizziness, disorientation and shortness of breath due to the high altitude; but, once you become accustomed to the climb, your mind opens up to the tranquility of the triumph.” “Often times the mind is flooded with realizations that were, for some reason, harder to come to, when you were at a lower elevation.” “Sometimes you need to get knocked down, before you can find out what your fight is.”

Before concluding, Boseman stated that “Sometimes you need to feel the real sting of defeat to activate the passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.” “When you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career.” “Purpose crosses disciplines.” Purpose is an essential element of you.” “Remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

Last updated on September 4, 2020

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