I woke up this morning to hear of the passing of Chadwick Boseman, the actor that played Black Panther in the Marvel movies. I remember going to a fans-only night the evening before the official release to watch the film in Seattle. I went alone and took my reserved seat on the aisle. It was one of the upgraded theaters where the seats reclined, and there was a snack table that swiveled over your lap. The seat next to me was empty for a while. Then an older African American man with a Marine hat on walked by and sat next to me. We said hello and smiled at each other but didn’t get into any conversation. The movie started minutes later.
Throughout the film, there were moments where we would look at each other with big eyes or laugh as if we had come to the movie together and wanted to see each other’s reactions. By the end, I felt we had gone through the experience together and bonded over our shared delight in that we just witnessed. When the credits began, we looked at each other and smiled, so I started a conversation. We spoke throughout the credits about the movie in general and what it meant to have a mostly black cast in a superhero film. We also discussed how the messages of the movie would impact generations to come. It made us hopeful for a future where people of color in America could have the same capacity and opportunities as white people. It was only a few minutes of interaction, but I remember it to this day. It’s so crucial for every child to have their culture represented on the big screen and TV.
I remember watching the press leading up to the movie and thinking that Chadwick was a unique actor, he had a grace and poise about him that I hadn’t seen from many others. From the moment I heard him speak, he had me hooked, and I was always looking out for his other projects. We lost a great artist today. I’m so sorry he felt he needed to keep his battle with cancer to himself, though I understand the many possible motivations to do so. Life is short, my friends, don’t waste the time you have, and cherish those around you because they may be dealing with more than they want to share.
Rest in peace, Chadwick…