In my lifetime I’ve been blessed to see many a great African American male actor perform some of the greatest roles in the history of film.
Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Forest Whitaker, Samuel L Jackson, James Earl Jones, Sidney Portier, Bill Cosby, Will Smith are some that come to mind if we are making a Mount Rushmore.
Presently, you’d be hard-pressed to find many thespians more adept at their craft than the late great Chadwick Boseman who would’ve turned 44 today.
Boseman passed away in August from colon cancer, his unfortunate and very surprising death hit the world hard, and not just the film industry. Unless you were a part of his loyal, tight-knit circle you had absolutely no idea that he was sick.
As he battled this horrible illness he persevered and continued to work tirelessly.
Boseman was a graduate of the renowned Howard University where he studied directing and landed his first major role in (2010) as a series regular on “Persons Unknown”.
His breakthrough performance came in the form of playing the great “Jackie Robinson” in the film “42” in (2013).
He continued to play historical figures such as the “Godfather Of Soul” himself in James Brown in the movie “Get On Up”. He also crushed the role of Thurgood Marshall (The First African – American Supreme Court Justice) in the film “Marshall” in 2017.
In 2018 he landed the role that helped him achieve international fame, by starring in the movie “The Black Panther”.
His leading role as “Tchalla” dismissed the notion that Blacks couldn’t be lead roles in superhero movies and disproved the fallacy that Black movies with Black casts didn’t sell. Boseman appeared in four (MCU) “Marvel Cinematic Universe films from 2016 to 2019.
Following the huge box office success of “The Black Panther,” he was asked during a panel about a possible sequel. During this time he stated, “I Don’t Know I’ll Be Dead”. It was still not known that he was fighting stage 4 cancer.
Despite sudden weight loss wherein pics he looked as if he may have been preparing for a movie role, and folks making cruel and insensitive jokes about his appearance, Boseman never wavered in his approach and continued giving us movie lovers top-notch work.
He even gave the commencement speech at his alma mater while sick.
For his role in “Black Panther”, he received an NAACP Image Award for Oustanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Boseman was also recognized with a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture. The first black actor to headline an (MCU) film, Chad was named to the Time 100 for 2018. In 2020 while fighting for his life, Boseman starred in well-renowned producer Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods”.
His last film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was released posthumously on November 25th, 2020 and he has been lauded by movie critics for his role opposite Viola Davis in the film.
It’s still too early to assess how much genius Black culture has lost out on with Boseman’s passing, but we do know that the shooting comet left a treasure chest of work that will stand the test of time.