The Most Inspirational Moments Of Chadwick Boseman's Life

Chadwick Aaron Boseman was more than just another actor. By the age of 43, Boseman immortalized a number of historic Black icons in a way that's never been done by one actor before. The proud South Carolina native was able to reawaken life into legends, such as professional baseball player Jackie Robinson in 42, the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown in Get on Up, and Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall.

Outside of historical figures, Boseman curated his career and movie choices in a way that solidified his legacy as a prominent Black actor, who delivered meaningful and necessary stories. This was demonstrated in a number of films — including Da 5 Bloods and The Express — however, no other role gave way to Boseman's skill and talents more than his portrayal as Marvel superhero Black Panther in the 2018 movie of the same name. 

On Aug. 28, 2020, it was announced that the Black Panther star died from his long battle with colon cancer in his Los Angeles home surrounded by family and friends, per The Hollywood Reporter. The announcement not only devastated Hollywood, but every corner of pop culture, as his stature expanded far greater than the movie screen. In fact, Boseman's life off-screen was just as influential as it was on. Keep scrolling to revisit Boseman's most inspirational moments. 

Chadwick Boseman delivered a powerful commencement speech at Howard University

Following the April 2018 release of Avengers: Infinity War, Chadwick Boseman delivered the commencement speech to the graduating class of his alma mater, Howard University. It was a paramount time not only for students of the historically Black university — who staged a nine-day peaceful protest in the school's administration building a month prior, according to NPR — but also for the Black community as a whole, as it was also the height of the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality nationwide. 

In the speech, Boseman said in part, "Graduating class, hear me well on this day, when you have reached the hilltop and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, career, further education: You would rather find purpose than a job or a career."

He continued, "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. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose."

Chadwick Boseman's 2019 SAG Awards speech answered an important question

In 2019, Black Panther won a Screen Guild Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture. The award was accepted by Chadwick Boseman, alongside co-stars Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Lupita Nyong'o, and Danai Gurira. Of course, as the title character of the film, cast members pushed Boseman to deliver the obligatory speech. He reminisced on the questions he and his co-stars were asked frequently while promoting the now-iconic film, one of which being, "Has [Black Panther] changed the industry? Has [the movie] actually changed how this industry works — how it sees us?"

Boseman answered the question, "To be young, gifted, and Black... 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."

He continued, "And that is what we went to work with every day. Because we knew — not that we would be around during awards season and that it would make a billion dollars — but we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world."

Black Panther's accent was chosen by Chadwick Boseman purposely

Chadwick Boseman wanted every element of Black Panther to be as authentic as possible, and that authenticity included the accent and language the Wakandans spoke. In a 2018 interview on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast with hosts Scott Feinberg and Stephen Galloway, Boseman spoke openly about the pushback he originally received from Marvel on speaking with an Xhosa accent, an official language of South Africa. 

"They felt that it was maybe too much for an audience to take," Boseman said. "I felt the exact opposite — like, if I speak with a British accent, what's gonna happen when I go home?" He acknowledged that the decision felt "like a deal-breaker."

He added, "I was like, 'No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?'" Of course, his points were heard and understood, since fans don't have to suffer through what would have been an awkward British-speaking Black Panther. 

Chadwick Boseman took every fan into consideration

Chadwick Boseman was notorious for going out of his way to make fans feel special and important, whether that was through a lengthy conversation or a Wakanda-stance photo. Boseman took the time to create an experience, for children and adults alike. Following the announcement of his passing, fans shared their personal moments with the actor that demonstrated his kindhearted nature. One Twitter thread in particular — posted Aug. 29, 2020 — grabbed the attention of thousands. 

"I got to meet @chadwickboseman once while I worked Samuel French film & theater bookshop. He didn't bring any attention to himself, just wanted to find a few new plays. But then this young actor, 20 something black man, comes up to him and starts talking," @trevorcopter began the thread, "30 mins later, they are still chatting. Chadwick taking the time to give this guy advice, speaking to what's it's [sic] like to be a black man in this industry, how to navigate it. The actor thanks him for his time and continues looking for books."

The Twitter user explained Boseman bought a stack of new plays for the young actor and told him to hold the books at the counter for him. "He didn't want thanks. He just wanted to make sure this young man was taken care of and had access to resources he would need to succeed," @trevorcopter tweeted.

Chadwick Boseman was truly a king amongst men — even outside of the Black Panther suit.