A CNN alert coming to my phone is nothing that I would normally blink at, but on the night of August 28th, a particular alert stopped me dead in my tracks. For a moment, the world paused as I read the words “‘Black Panther’ Actor Chadwick Boseman Dead at Age 43.” Nothing could have prepared me to read those words. Not only was he a prolific actor, he was a fellow Bison. He graduated from Howard with a BFA in 2000, and since his rise to fame, he has continued to pay homage to his alma mater.
As a Howard University student, seeing any of our alum reach fame or the top of their field is always a cause for celebration. We students see their accomplishments as our own, and Chadwick was no exception. To us, he was more than an actor; he was a brother. Losing him has struck at the core of the Bison community.
I remember the first time I saw him on campus. It was my freshman year, and “Marshall” was only a few weeks away from wide release, so naturally, there was a screening at Howard’s own Cramton Auditorium. I remember the excitement in the air as we swag surfed before the start of the movie and when we first saw our brother on screen as Thurgood Marshall. There was something special about seeing Chadwick, a Howard alumnus, playing Thurgood Marshall, another Howard alumnus, while sitting on Howard’s campus and being a Howard student. I know we all felt a world of possibilities sitting in front of us. When the movie was over and the cast came out to answer questions, I could barely hear my own thoughts. This was a homecoming.
That same year, Chadwick starred in “Black Panther,” one of the biggest cultural phenomena of my young life. I went to the midnight premier with my friends and when we walked back to campus, all we could do was scream about how amazing it was. To cap the year off, he spoke at commencement and encouraged the university to reestablish the College of Fine Arts. Furthermore, he reminded all of us – graduates and students alike – that there was a world of possibilities waiting for us.
Chadwick Boseman was our brother, our friend, and our king. Though he has transitioned into the land of our ancestors, he will continue to inspire us with his life and legacy. May the ancestors welcome him with open arms and may he rest easy knowing he will never be forgotten.
To pay homage to Chadwick’s legacy, sign this petition to rename the Howard University College of Fine Arts the “Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts.”