Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, 43, has died following a four-year battle with colon cancer, reported The New York Times. “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family said in a statement. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more — all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
Boseman’s acting career had transcended mere entertainment. Through his roles and through his reputation off the screen, Boseman had become a respected actor, activist, and an example of a celebrity helping to rewrite what it means to be a black artist in Hollywood. “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,” he told the Associated Press (via The Washignton Post).
News of Boseman’s passing shocked fans around the globe. Many were unaware he was sick. According to the Times, he had not spoken publicly about his illness. Here’s everything we know about the circumstances surrounding this heartbreaking loss.
Chadwick Boseman shielded his loved ones from the spotlight
According to The Associated Press, Chadwick Boseman died at his home in the Los Angeles area surrounded by his wife and his family. Even as his fame soared, Boseman continued to keep his private life out of the spotlight, including his relationship with singer Taylor Simone Ledward (pictured.) Newsweek reported that the couple was first spotted together in 2015, reportedly got engaged in 2019, and are believed to have quietly married in 2020.
Though they’d occasionally attended events together, details about their dynamic remained out of the headlines — as if Boseman were protecting this important piece of his superhero, super-Hollywood identity. He did break character in March 2019 at the 50th NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles. According to Newsweek, Boseman addressed his partner as he accepting the award for outstanding actor in a motion picture. “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you.”
Though we now know Boseman and his loved ones were battling his cancer diagnosis in private, the actor had continued to work hard to inspire others in the weeks and months before his passing. One of his final messages on Instagram resonated with new meaning as fans grappled with his death.
Chadwick Boseman spent his final days trying to save lives
Even as he battled for his life, Chadwick Boseman was focused on helping others. On April 15, 2020 — Jackie Robinson Day — just months before his passing, Boseman posted a stirring video to social media to raise awareness for front-line workers battling COVID-19 through Thomas Tull’s #Operation42.
Boseman’s starring role as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 2013’s 42 was a breakout moment for the actor, and his death on Aug. 28, 2020, coincidentally occurred on the same day that Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day, per The New York Times. Boseman had a deep respect for the first Black man to play in the major league. “We still stand on his shoulders,” Boseman once said (via TMZ) “…he carried the torch. And he carried it alone for a period of time before other people could help him.”
Boseman had clearly picked up that torch. As he worked to distribute vital equipment to front-line workers during the pandemic, he acknowledged Robinson’s legacy during his video message. “Thank you, Jackie, for refusing to accept the world as it is, for showing us that we can make a difference.”
It’s now up to us — Boseman’s countless fans — to carry the torch in honor of a true superhero.
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