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Chadwick Boseman, a fighter and hero

Chadwick Boseman in an image from his official Facebook page. Photo credit Sam Jones.

LONDON – To us, Chadwick Boseman was the hero, the fighter who managed to save the day. But we didn’t know he fought an even greater battle outside of the futurist world of Black Panther.

Boseman died of cancer on Friday at the age of 43.

Four years ago, Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer yet he never spoke publicly on the matter. Instead he fought his own battle behind the scenes.

Boseman’s rise to fame began with his role as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42 which tells the story of the first African American to play in major league baseball. This soon led to him playing James Brown in the 2014 film Get on up.

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However, for most people, we will always remember Boseman as Black Panther.

Boseman also spoke out as an African American about what it was like being a part of this industry.

While promoting the movie 42, he told the Associated Press, “You don’t have the same exact experience as a black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true.”

When Black Panther won best ensemble in the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, he further spoke on being an African American in a white-dominated industry, saying, “We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be featured… we know what’s like to be beneath and not above… we knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had something to give.”

His remarkable words demonstrate a strength that isn’t seen in many. Not only did he want to change racial stereotypes, but he wanted to pave the way for others like him, to give them a better chance in a harsh environment.

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Fellow actors expressed their heartbreak at the devastating news, with Chris Evans, who is known for his role as Captain American in the Marvel franchise and worked alongside Boseman, wrote on Twitter: “Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create.”

But it was former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s tweet which aptly summed up Boseman’s legacy.

Biden wrote, “He inspired generations and showed them that they can be anything they want – even super heroes.”

Biden was right. On and off the screen Chadwick Boseman showed the world his immense strength. He told his audience that they could be anything they wanted to be and inspired people in so many different ways.

We will always remember Chadwick Boseman as a fighter. A hero.

Aimee Shah is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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