The year 2020 continues to remind us of the fragility of life. Last week, people around the world were shocked to hear of the passing of Chadwick Boseman after a four year battle with colon cancer.
I was deeply affected by Chadwick Boseman’s passing for many reasons.
The legacy that he lives behind through his art is undeniable, but what was even more powerful to me is the lessons we can learn from his life and passing.
The power of resilience
Chadwick Boseman graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 2000. He appeared in various television shows and wrote plays in the subsequent years. But his first starring role as an actor happened in 2013 as Jackie Robinson, in the movie 42.
It took 13 years for Chadwick Boseman to find success as a leading actor, and 18 years to become an international superstar with Black Panther. Often, people look at someone else, eager to emulate the person’s success, not realizing the amount of work and sacrifice that led to that success.
Chadwick Boseman’s life trajectory reminds us of the importance of resilience and understanding that greatness is a process.
The importance of pursuing your purpose
In a speech delivered to a graduating class at his alma mater, he reminded the audience of the importance of finding your purpose in life, even if it means you have to sacrifice money and comfort.
The search for purpose is uncomfortable, paved with doubt, failures, and difficulty, but it can lead to a more meaningful life.
Chadwick Boseman’s life illustrates how on the other side of difficulty and life struggles lies your purpose.
Once he discovered his purpose, he found extraordinary strength to carry it through. It reminds us that every obstacle that you overcome in life will get you closer to your destiny. Once you find out why you are on Earth, the Universe will equip you with everything you need to carry your mission.
The fact that Chadwick Boseman gave the world movies like Black Panther, the Avengers, and 21 Bridges while battling stage 3 cancer shows us that in his struggle, he found incredible strength to accomplish his purpose.
Leaving a legacy
Chadwick Boseman understood his mission. The movies that he chose to star in portrayed iconic Black characters like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, or Jackie Robinson, all key players in Black history for the barriers they broke.
Chadwick Boseman also played King T’Challa, the lead role in Black Panther, the first superhero movie with a majority Black cast. Along with the rest of the Black Panther cast, he inspired kids, especially Black youth worldwide, giving them representation and an invaluable sense of pride.
He was fired from his first acting role on the tv show “All My Children” for suggesting changes to the script, which in his opinion perpetuated harmful stereotypes about Black people.
Chadwick Boseman clearly was intentional about leaving a legacy that would inspire younger generations, and he did an outstanding job at it.
The power of grace
Chadwick Boseman was a gift to the world, showing immeasurable strength while fighting the battle of his life in private.
He gave us a lesson in grace and dignity. He didn’t let his medical condition and pain get in the way of his mission. He selflessly motivated and inspired others while he was suffering in silence.
He chose to visit sick children and give commencement speeches to encourage young people to do the work and find their destiny.
Chadwick Boseman’s grace hit home for me. It reminded me of my sister, who showed grace and strength until her very last days.
People were always surprised to see her, dressed up, making jokes, and motivating people around her while she knew her days were counted.
It is an honor to be in the presence of such people. It helps put life in perspective and makes you realize that you should make the most of your journey on this Earth until your last day.
The importance of watching the company you keep
At a time where every detail of public figures’ private lives is shared with the world, it is impressive to know that Chadwick Boseman was able to keep his battle with cancer private for four years. Some would argue that nondisclosure agreements can prevent personal information from leaking.
However, as we have seen in recent years, people are not afraid to break confidentiality agreements if it can result in a financial gain.
Chadwick Boseman reminded us of the importance of ensuring that the people in your close circle are trustworthy.
Chadwick Boseman’s story is inspiring on many levels. He chose to make his last days on Earth matter by leaving an uplifting legacy as a man and an artist.
As he once told Denzel Washington, young gifted Black actors rested on his shoulders, many rested on Chadwick Boseman’s shoulders.
His passing has led me to a question that has been on my mind for a while.
What would you do if you found out you had three years left to live?
“Sometimes, you need to get knocked down to understand what your fight is.” Chadwick Boseman