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To say that Chadwick Boseman was a beloved Black superhero would be selling his legacy short. The actor, who recently passed away at 43, was a walking example of Black excellence and a reminder to never give up. Boseman was what many considered a “late bloomer” in Hollywood, casting his first major role as Jackie Robinson in the film 42 when he was already 35 years old. His determination, work ethic and unrelenting commitment led him to score many other major roles in films like Marshall, Get On Up and of course, the box-office hit Black Panther. He made being the good guy look cool not only because of his roles, but also because of how he inspired others in real life.
As the world, and those who loved him, mourn this unimaginable loss, let’s look back at seven inspiring quotes this incredible actor and icon left us with.
1. During a 2018 commencement speech at his alma mater, Howard University, Boseman spoke about purpose and legacy by telling the graduating class that purpose is not defined by what you do for a living.
“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career,” he said at the time. “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.”
2. During the same HU speech, Boseman also spoke about losing his role on the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives,” which ironically Michael B. Jordan was later re-casted in. He says the ordeal taught him an important lesson about trusting God even when our plans go awry.
“When you invest in a seed, watching it grow without you, that is a bitter pill to swallow,” he said. “Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”
3. When the actor spoke on behalf of the Black Panther cast at the 2019 SAG Awards, his gracious acceptance speech went viral and touched the hearts of Black people everywhere.
“To be young, gifted and Black,” Boseman started, borrowing words from Nina Simone. “We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured. Yet you are young, gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. That is what we went to work with every day because we knew… that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”
4. In a quote that eerily reflects the health struggles he was going through, Chadwick gave advice on using one’s time wisely, while they still have the chance to.
“You have to cherish things in a different way when you know the clock is ticking, you are under pressure,” he said.
5. While accepting the award for Best Hero at the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards, Boseman shared the spotlight with James Shaw Jr. Shaw, a good samaritan who made headlines for fighting off a gunman in a Tennessee Waffle House.
“Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing, but it’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes that we have in real life,” Boseman said.
“There’s a plethora of stories in our culture that haven’t been told because Hollywood didn’t believe they were viable,” he said. “It would be cool to see slices of history that you haven’t seen with African figures. Like Africans in Europe – the Moors in Spain. Or if you go to Portugal, they have statues of Black people all over the place. So, not only have we been here,” Boseman says, “but we’ve directly affected everything that you think is European.”
7. While speaking to press backstage at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards, Boseman was asked if he felt as though he was living his true purpose. His answer was nothing short of astounding.
“I feel that I’m living my purpose. But the thing about purpose is that it unfolds to you more and more everyday,” the actor said. “You could be living in what was revealed to you at a particular time, and then you might get stagnated because there’s more that you’re supposed to do. It doesn’t just stop as you do one thing. I think it’s [about] being open to what you’re supposed to do at this moment and not getting stuck in the past. Purpose is not related to career or career. It’s related to what God put inside you that you’re supposed to give to the world.”