Chadwick Boseman was honored on Thursday evening (Sept. 3) in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina. The beloved actor tragically passed away last month after a four-year-long battle with colon cancer. He has since been remembered during major sporting events, award shows and, now, in his home city.
“You know, he was always reading and always trying to get better,” Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts said of Boseman. “So, from a work ethic point of view, it just doesn’t happen overnight. He showed us that we’ve got to hone our skills and just persevere.”
The city hosted a public memorial service, where residents could watch an outdoor viewing of Black Panther and display artwork of the late actor and playwright.
“There’s deep sadness and grief, but it has a bounce out of it that is such inspiration,” Anderson spokeswoman Beth Batson said. “It has been amazing to watch the grief — so to speak — blossom. Now young people say, ‘What can I do? What can I be?’”
Local Pastor Samuel Neely said that Boseman — whom he baptized — was active in his church and community.
Though Thursday’s tribute (Sept. 3) was not a funeral service and Boseman’s immediate family did not attend, his publicist said they appreciated the effort.
“On behalf of the Boseman Family, we appreciate the community’s outpouring of love and admiration for Chadwick,” the statement read.
So far, over 60,000 people have signed a petition to replace a statue of a Confederate soldier in Anderson with one of Boseman. The Change.org petition calls for the memorial — which currently resides in front of the court house — to instead be transported to a museum.
“He opened many doors for many young Black people with his leading roles in movies such as Black Panther or Marshall. It is only natural that his hometown honors what he did,” the petition creator wrote.
So far, city officials have not announced whether or not they will replace the statue.