When I was a child my uncle wanted me to read comic books. Just to see if I would be interested in them. I mean I was a kid, a book with pictures was easy to get any kid to read, right? But this one was different, so different that I didn’t know what was in my hand. It was a small magazine with probably only twenty to twenty-five pages in it and I flipped through it and saw nothing but pictures with a few words here and there. I was confused at first, but I sat down on my grandparent’s couch and started reading it. And there he was a man dressed as a giant black cat with sharp metal (Vibranium) claws standing tall in one of the panels.
I laughed a little and called him Cat Man, thinking that what he was. When I joked about it to my uncle, he smacked his lips and told me to read the front of the cover because he knew I knew how to read well for my age. So, I turned it back to the front of the page and saw the title “Black Panther.” The name captured me, it brought me in, and I was ready to dive into this ‘Black Panther’ guy to see what he was all about.
Now, Batman has always been my favorite hero because he was the first one, I was introduced to on T.V. like many other kids before and after me. But when I saw Black Panther Batman got knocked down to second place. Why? Well, as I kept reading the comic and saw everything Black Panther did, like jumping, climbing, and kicking bad guys butt. None of that mattered when I learned that he was a black guy. Me a black kid who was told that we can’t amount to anything in the United States was looking at a black man be a superhero. My love for this character was instant, and it grew with time.
Once I graduated from high school and the marvel movies were taking off. I thought of the possibilities that maybe one day he’ll get a movie of his own. So, I started going to the library and collected as many black panthers’ books as I can from writers Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin(director of House party 1 & 2). I witnessed the ups and downs, his victories, his defeats, his heartbreak, and his marriage. I mean this guy just became my best friend in three months. Now I know we had other black heroes like Storm, Blade, Spawn, Static Shock, and Black lightning to name a few. But we never had one that showed us that our ancestors were royalty. Kings and Queens, spiritual leaders, and scientific thinkers. It was a majestic thing to witness and I prayed that one day that movie was going to be made.
My prayers were eventually answered when Chadwick Boseman was announced to play as Black Panther in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ I was ecstatic but somewhat disappointed that he wasn’t getting his movie. Until a friend told me he was and then I just lost it. My favorite superhero was coming to life and being played by an amazing actor no less. I couldn’t believe it, the greatest hero in my eyes was going to be on the big screen and I was going to witness it firsthand. Now we all know how it did in the box office and the other appearances he made. But today I’m writing this because I learned that my hero died over the weekend. And his death hits differently for me than the other celeb’s death, so much that I cried the night that I found out. Why?
Chadwick existed to play Black Panther, he was Black Panther, he just wasn’t the King of Wakanda. He was the King of African Diaspora all over the world; people may say it’s a little too much. But when you go to a cancer center for children while fighting your own and bringing to life some of the most prominent African American men to the big screen (Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown)He made an impact on so many of us. He taught us who we were, who we are, and who we can be. He stared death in the eyes and didn’t flinch not one moment. He didn’t show weakness in front of his fans because he thought like a king and stood tall, his head held high. Bringing us joy, until the Ancestors called him home.
Rest easy Chadwick Boseman. You may have left this world, but your legacy will remain here with the rest of us. Reminding us who we were, who we are, and who we can be. Thank you, my king.
“In my culture, death is not the end. It’s more of a stepping-off point. You reach out with both hands, and Bast and Sekhmet, they lead you into the green veld where you can run forever.”