The King Is Dead, But Chadwick Boseman Lived Gracefully & Purposefully!

The King is Dead: Da 5 Bloods, Get On Up, 42 and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman has died from colon cancer at the age of 43.

This morning I awoke to an instant message that straight up broke my heart. Chadwick Boseman, the man who brought life to James Brown; embodied Jackie Robinson and will forever be known as T’Challa in my heart, has died. According to reports, he died yesterday, August 28th, surrounded by his wife and family. He had been battling colon cancer since 2016, unbeknownst to the public.

Now 2020 has overall been a shit year that’s taken Kobe Bryant, given us the most ill-handled pandemic, murder hornets, fire tornadoes, lynchings, a slew of unarmed Black bodies in the morgue, a rise in protests in response, a President literally sending in the National Guard to address said protests; and now the king is dead. 

To say I cried this morning would be an understatement; my husband had to ask me “Babe, why is this one hitting so different?”

Because I saw what him, Winston, Lupita, Danai, Letitia, Angela, Michael, Daniel, Martin, Andy, and many more, all under the guidance of Ryan and his team did for the culture. I don’t know if you remember the months leading up to Black Panther’s release (2017 feels like a century ago), but I do. I remember the memes talking about how Black folk were going to show up to the theater. The Coming to America jokes, the pictures of Black men wrapped in Kente cloth, Black women in geles, children in tribal paint—everything. There was a pride we didn’t often have a chance to exhibit, especially when receiving a final product from an institution that belligerently believed that an all-Black cast could not sell movie tickets. 

Chadwick Boseman Death - Black Panther
at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California. – Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff Getty Images North America

And the movie’s opening weekend did not disappoint; Black folks showed up and out to see Black Panther and dressed the way we said we were going to. I know me and my family watched it in a completely packed theater, dressed to the motherfucking nines. And this was after watching the midnight showing the day before with my husband and literally being blown away by the beauty of what had been made. Not only was the movie beautiful, it was timely and well done; it had conversations in it we had been longing to have, memorable dialogue and scenes I still quote around the house with my husband and children to this day. And most importantly, it shattered the myth that Black films don’t sell, as it took in an astounding $1.47 billion (worldwide at that)–a whooping 635% return on the studios initial investment of $200 million. 

But it wasn’t just his role in Black Panther that sold me on him; it was the grace with which he carried himself in interviews. Whether it was talking about how Denzel made it possible for him to continue studying at Oxford, or about how carefully he selected his roles, or when he gave the 150th commencement speech at his alma mater Howard University and told the graduating class not only what they were up against, but that they could and would overcome those obstacles or when he cried talking about the two young boys who also were battling cancer and how they died before the release of the film; Chadwick did it all with poise and grace that made me believe he really was a goddamn king. 

And this doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that he did the majority of this while battling colon cancer himself. The grueling film schedule, the non-stop interviews, posing with fans as they cried their little eyes out for the man who would forever be their king; ALL OF IT sandwiched between chemo treatments, doctors appointments and surgeries. My dad had cancer, and I bore witness to the shits it put people through; Chadwick Boseman was a hero on and off screen; for that he will be sorely missed. 

Chadwick, I pray your ancestors carry you safely on your journey to the ancestral realm; and though you’re gone from our physical presence, we know you’ll never depart from us spiritually. This may hurt but we know just as you fought so bravely in life, so you will continue to do so for us in the spirit.

Goodnight sweet king.  


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Jael R. Bakari

Jael is a weirdo. Armed with an imagination that rivals virtual reality and a M.S. in Psych when Jael isn’t analyzing the actions of celebrities and public figures she is busy creating rich worlds of Color (pun intended) dressed in fantasy and magic that focus on her life’s mission: to show we are all human through the power of stories. Her hobbies include reminiscing about growing up in pre-Hipster Brooklyn, reading all the books and painting with the bulk of her time split between raising an active family of five with her husband Solomon in the Peach State and sprinkling the outcomes of her research, meditations, musings, and general silliness across social media. To learn more about Jael and read the weird thoughts from her head visit her at www.jaelrbakari.com

Jael R. Bakari has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Jael R. Bakari

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