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The Legacy Of Chadwick Boseman And Black Panther To The Kids Who Idolized Him




Chadwick Boseman poses in the press room during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Chadwick Boseman poses in the press room during the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 24, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for dcp

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The news of Chadwick Boseman’s death from colon cancer at age 43 rocked the world on Friday night.

The star of films like Marvel’s “Black Panther” and the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” had not spoken publicly about his illness, and even continued to work despite it. As word of his death spread, it became clear that Boseman had only mentioned his illness to a select few people in his inner circles. “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler wrote an emotional tribute to Boseman and said that even he had no idea that Boseman had been living and working with cancer. But as hard as the news of his death has hit the entertainment world, its impact is being felt just as deeply among kids across the country and the world who saw Boseman as a real-life superhero, not only as the embodiment of King T’Challa in “Black Panther” but also -- especially for young Black children -- as the fulfillment of something that generations of Black kids before did not have -- a superhero that looks like them headlining a major superhero movie franchise that was viewed, marketed and valued on the level that other Marvel franchises traditionally have been. The importance of this is borne out in the thousands of posts online that followed Boseman’s death, from parents who told stories of their kids refusing to take their Black Panther costume off to the stories of those children battling illness who looked up to Boseman and King T’Challa as a source of strength every day, and who will no doubt see him that way even more so now.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll remember Chadwick Boseman legacy as an actor, a man and a role model for so many children, especially young Black kids. You can join the live conversation by calling 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC, Alt-Film Guide and CineGods.com; he tweets @CinemaInMind