Indian Country Today
The world forever lost a hero on August 27th. At the young age of 43, Chadwick Boseman, the man who played Marvel’s "Black Panther," left this world after a heroic struggle with colon cancer.
At 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, my wife was on the phone with a friend and they learned the news. It was trending on Twitter at that point. Boseman had died. As she woke me to tell me, I was immediately saddened and I could no longer sleep.
I sat with my wife and tweeted my sadness as well as perused the outpouring of tributes to Boseman from all over the world. I saw people from every ethnicity, religion, and age sharing their grief.
I tweeted, “I am extremely saddened to learn that the actor Chadwick Boseman has died. He did an amazing job as Black Panther and I am genuinely devastated.”
The unequaled importance of a diverse superhero
As a true Native nerd, I won’t shy away from the fact I purchased my movie tickets to see “Black Panther” weeks in advance to attend the grand opening showing. As part of the movie, all of the attendees were given a Black Panther commemorative medallion. For some reason, the movie usher gave me two of them.
I watched the movie and was mesmerized as well as excited. I laughed when actors in the movie called out colonizers, thrived in an African land that was lauded as the most technologically advanced civilization on earth and some of the fiercest African warriors were women and vegetarians. Over and over again, the movie challenged the stereotypes of tribal people and lauded them as champions. What was not to love?
And at the center of it all was Boseman, the young and handsome African prince who was also the superhero we all know as Black Panther.
I left the theater with a feeling of excitement and pride for people of color. I knew Marvel had struck a real chord. A lesson was taught that I cherished. It was undoing harmful histories so often told.
“Black Panther” raked in about $1.3 billion and was the only superhero movie to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture. I was part of it.
And as I left the theater that night, filled with appreciation for such a masterful work, I saw the long lines of people waiting to see it. Many of the people were dressed in traditional Kinta cloth, huge smiles of anticipation on their faces.
I saw a Black young man, probably about 7 or 8 years old with the same excitement. I suddenly remembered I had two collectible coins for the people who had seen the first movie. I reached into my pocket and handed it to him. I said, “I have an extra Black Panther coin, here you go buddy.”
He looked super excited and smiled, and his father thanked me and shook my hand.
I can’t imagine what that must feel like at such a young age to see a superhero on the big screen who looks like you, who isn’t a horrible stereotype, or playing second fiddle to another non-ethnic lead superhero.
Thank you for being that hero, Chadwick.
Marvel artist Jeffrey Veregge, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
‘Chadwick was someone who radiated power and peace’
Since Friday night, the tributes and wishes of grief, love, and support toward Boseman and his family and loved ones had continued to pour in.
The tweet announcing his death has been the most-liked tweet of all time, with 6.9 million as of Aug. 30. Twitter announced the milestone on Aug. 28, writing, “Most liked Tweet ever. A tribute fit for a King. #WakandaForever”
Here are many of the tweets and social media posts from his costars at Marvel and from around the globe.
Robert Downey, Jr.
Former president Barack Obama
The Academy Awards
Tweets from all over the world
Rest in peace, King Boseman. Wakanda Forever.
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today who enjoys creating media, technology, computers, comics and movies. He is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter: @VinceSchilling and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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