I was awake at 3.30am (BST) when the news of Chadwick Boseman’s death was announced. I instantly thought it was a joke, or that I was dreaming only to see the influx of heartbreak and sadness on my twitter timeline. This was a man who was our real life superhero. Not just in his portrayal of King T’Challa but as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall; all powerful roles of black icons.
Whilst he was alive he was intentional with playing characters that represented the black community in a positive light. In his Howard commencement address he highlighted that he was blackballed for asking why a character he was casted as, was a stereotypical black man with no dad and a drug addict mother. That situation led him to stay true to himself by ensuring he changed the black narrative through his works. This was a man who battled colon cancer for four years, without it being public knowledge, yet produced his greatest works. In a year where we have lost a lot of heroes from Kobe Bryant to our family members impacted by Covid; all whilst demanding that our lives matter. This hurts.
The Black Panther movie was one of the most moving displays of black representation that I have ever seen. When we hosted 240 black people at the premiere, the atmosphere was electric and the pride glowed in each one of us. The portrayal of Wakanda is symbolic of today’s society, and there are lessons black people can learn about the utility of technology to innovate and uplift. Technology is the future, and the film highlighted the collective possibility of black people being able to economically and socially impact our community to change the ‘black narrative’. The film was impactful in so many ways, and it really opened my eyes to the strength of the black pound, and what we can achieve when we come together. Wakanda no longer needs to be this fictitious country that we look towards, when we can make it a reality in the very countries we reside in.
It is in these times that we, as a community, must come together and realise the potential in every one of us. We should learn from the message in the Black Panther, and use our voices, to uplift, inspire and be the best versions of ourselves. Chadwick Boseman’s continual efforts to display this through his movies should never be forgotten. Each and every one of us can make an impact — our lives do matter.
Let’s use the pain of 2020 to fuel our purpose ✊🏾
Founder & CEO