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  • Writer's pictureEllen Krohne

When He Was with Us

When He Was with Us

Black Panther was not a movie I’d seen. And I feel embarrassed to admit I knew little of the career of Chadwick Boseman. When I heard on the news that he had died and the accolades from so many pouring in, I was saddened, impressed and curious about who he was.

Chadwick Boseman was born 29 November 1976 in Anderson South Carolina, the son of Leroy, who worked for an agricultural company and also as an upholsterer, and Carolyn, a nurse. He was educated at TL Hanna high school and went to the historically black college, Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in directing. He taught acting early in his career as an actor and spent some years scraping by in bit-parts on TV shows.

His big breaks came as he played James Brown in Get On Up (2014), co-produced by Mick Jagger and co-written by the British playwright Jez Butterworth, and the civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017).

Black Panther in 2018, which Boseman starred in, was the first superhero movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and one of the highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in over $1.3bn.

Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all. His works were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. The actor had not publicly released that he was battling cancer before his death.

Bob Iger, Chairman of Disney praised Boseman on Good Morning America and said, “He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”

The part of Iger’s quote that touched me the most was, "My hope is that he would have heard these great things then, when he was with us.”

So often, people express how much they admired and respected someone only after their death.

From all the posts and accolades I’ve read, Chadwick Boseman was incredibly principled and only accepted roles that were meaningful, that would help change perceptions. I hope Mr. Iger and others in the industry and his circle of family and friends expressed how they felt about him and appreciated his integrity and talent, while he was here.

In the weeks ahead, as we all struggle with the craziness of 2020, let those who you respect, admire and love know how you feel. Show kindness to those who are helpers during this pandemic. Show kindness to all, we never know what people are battling privately.

Don’t wait. You never know when they will not be with us.

Be blessed,


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