Christian artist Kris Allen has a song called Live Like You're Dying, the first two lines of the songs chorus are "We only got 86 400 seconds in a day. To turn it all around or to throw it all away". Upon learning that actor Chadwick Boseman passed at the age of 43 from colon cancer, this songs title and lyrics are an afterthought reflection of how purposefully he lived his life publicly. Boseman diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, courageously worked on various projects without bringing public attention to his illness. Aside from recent weight loss (to which he never addressed, the scrutiny or judgment) seen in videos on social media he never let on that all wasn’t well. This kind of strength and dignity isn’t easily duplicated and speaks volumes of the person Boseman was and the purpose he was focused on fulfilling. Visiting cancer patients while fighting his own battle shows that the Black Panther character he played resonated deep within his person, prior to dawning the mask or undertaking the role. The kind of resiliency, steadfastness and compassion Chadwick Boseman displayed in those moments were well defined in his personal character long before he became a megastar. These kinds of qualities, aren’t ones a person can mimic through great acting skills or develop overnight or in the blink of an eye. Nor can they be coached by a publicist, these qualities he possessed were innate.
A plethora of children (especially black children) wanted to be like the Black Panther character after the acclaimed release of the 2018 film. After all, it is one of the most prolific films of its time. Boseman himself in an interview with Trevor Noah said “there is no villain in Black Panther, everyone is a hero” ( in their own story). Eyes to see how others perceive themselves is a vision lost to many. This kind of vision is guided by empathy and wisdom. Boseman seemed to effortlessly display this not only in his reflection of the aforementioned movie, but when he answered questions about Hollywood, notorious for its grimy nature and his interaction with cast mates and other well known actors. Boseman always had a positive response and oftentimes reflected on how purposeful others were to his journey and career in his early years.
Boseman in his role in Marvel’s 2018 release, Black Panther was a great super hero, who fought to protect his home in Wakanda. From the account of his Howard classmates, his colleagues in the acting world and the many lives he touched through various walks of life. Boseman outside of the set, the fame, the cameras, the interviews the Hollywood superstar, was a genuinely great man. Remaining humble, and his unwavering self even until his last breath. He did a lot with those 86,400 seconds each day gave him, even in his silence as it pertained to his illness, he is now speaking volumes to his fans and those who knew and loved him regarding life itself and what the inner makings of the overused terms legend, icon, and great really are.
My greatest take away from his passing is to be more like Chadwick, in the essence of living like you’re dying. Not in a sense of panic or perturbation, but with purpose, passion and pride. This is how you make your greatest impact in the lives of others. As did Mr.Boseman, through the life he lived publicly and privately, the roles he took as an actor that were depictions of black men as hero’s, as greats, as leaders, as human beings. He was a true black panther!