Chadwick Boseman – the actor best known for his lead role as T’Challa in Marvel superhero blockbuster Black Panther – died at the age of 43 last Friday, following a four-year battle with colon cancer.
While star-on-the-rise Boseman is being remembered for playing several iconic African-American figures – notably baseball legend Jackie Robinson (42) and soul king James Brown (Get On Up) – there also have been tributes to his faith.
Boseman was raised a Christian and was baptised. He has described how he prayed for the role of Black Panther, the mega-hit that made him an international star and took in about $US1.34 billion at the global box office.
Ahead of Black Panther‘s 2018 release, Boseman’s childhood pastor Samuel Neely told Fox News that Boseman had been part of the church choir and youth group – and continued to hold to his Christian faith.
A trained theatre director, actor and writer, Boseman had not spoken publicly about his Stage III cancer diagnosis in 2016. He continued to film during his treatment, as the cancer progressed to Stage IV.
A speech Boseman gave in 2018 to the graduating class at Washington D.C’s Howard University – where he graduated in 2000 with a degree in directing – is being widely shared for its rousing content.
RIP Chadwick Boseman pic.twitter.com/KlnhKyQDfk
— Jude 3 Project (@jude3project) August 29, 2020
Boseman begins by “first, giving honour to the Creator” before speaking of career challenges which involved keeping his integrity, rather than seek an easy path to fame or more project.
He also quoted from 1 Corinthians 3:6 to make a point about investment, return and ultimately experiencing God’s purpose.
“As the Scripture says, I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God kept growing – God kept it growing,” Boseman told the graduating class.
“Yet and still, when you invest in a seed, watching it grow without you, that is a bitter pill to swallow.”
“Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.
“God says in Jeremiah, I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future, graduating class. Hear me well on this day. When you hit this day when you have reached the hilltop and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career.
“Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you … Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dare to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes, talents – when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me.”