Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get worse, T’Challa dies.

Legendary actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing title character T’Challa in Black Panther, passed away at the age of 43 earlier this week. Fans flooded the Internet with broken-hearted responses within minutes after the news broke via Boseman’s social media. Within two hours of the original posts, Boseman was 25 out of 29 trending topics on Twitter. 

The late night August 28th post from Boseman’s accounts revealed a devastating secret that was kept hidden from the public. Boseman had been dealing with colon cancer for the past four years. The post said, “Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.” According to the post, Boseman died in his own home with his loved ones by his side. 

In the time since his diagnosis he filmed many movies—including Black Panther, Marshall, and Avengers: Endgame—doing a large amount of promotion for all of them. He did all this with a smile. 

Throughout his career, Boseman played important roles such as T’Challa (aka the Black Panther) in multiple Marvel films, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, and Jackie Robinson in 42. 

People all over social media publicly grieved the loss of such an icon. Phrases such as “CHADWICK BOSEMAN DIED” “Not Chadwick” and “#ChadwickForever” trended on Twitter within minutes of the news releasing. 

These tweets were not just from fan accounts, but also from big name celebrities including Boseman’s coworkers and friends. Actresses Kerry Washington and Brie Larson were among the first to speak out, each with their own heartfelt goodbye.

Others took to cursing 2020 for being such a cursed year. Many tweets were posted discussing the tragedy of losing both Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman in the same year. Two Black men with whole lives and careers ahead of them gone far too soon. 

One of the longest and most heart wrenching posts was from Josh Gad. In addition to a farewell, Gad posted a text he received from Bosmean about rain in Los Angeles. Boseman had written, “inhale and exhale this moment, and thank God for the unique beauties and wonders of this day. We should take advantage of every moment we can to enjoy the simplicity of God’s creation, whether it be clear skies and sun or clouded over with gloom.” These beautiful words are another testament to what has been lost. 

But Bosemen was so much more than just an actor. He was an inspiration and a source of happiness. He fought for proper Black representation, especially while working on the Black Panther set. According to an interview done with The Hollywood Reporter, T’Challa’s accent was something Boseman had to fight for. He told the interviewer that originally T’Challa was supposed to have an American or a European accent, but he rebelled against that idea because having one of those accents would’ve meant that Wakanda had been colonized. “[Marvel] felt that it was maybe too much for an audience to take… I felt the exact opposite—like, if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home? It felt to me like a deal-breaker… 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?'” 

 

In 2018, he gave a commencement speech at Howard University, the institution he graduated from in 2000. Various clips of his speech have been floating around social media following his passing. During that speech, he said, “when I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes—with no clear historical backgrounds, with no hopes or talents—when I questioned that method of portrayal a different path opened up for me, the path to my destiny.” The entire 35 minute video can be found on YouTube and is definitely worth the watch. 

Boseman brought such joy to so many fans throughout his career. He gave speeches at universities, visited sick children in hospitals, surprised fans with Jimmy Fallon, absolutely nailed comedy as a host on SNL, all in addition to his work on film sets. He was inspiration to all and one of the leading Black voices in the public eye. His representation and legacy will live on for ages to come. 

Featured image from Twitter and Gage Skidmore.