FILE - This July 21, 2014 file photo shows actor Chadwick Boseman posing for a portrait in New York. Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer. His representative says Boseman died Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 in Los Angeles after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP, File)

Chadwick Boseman’s death leaves saddening mark on rough 2020

The actor died at the age of 43 in his home in Los Angeles after he privately battled colon cancer for four years

Kobe Bryant. Rep. John Lewis. And now, Chadwick Boseman.

So far, 2020 has been marred with bad news and tragedy with the deaths of several popular Black icons including Bryant, Lewis and recently Boseman, who died Friday. All three were viewed as leaders in their respective fields of sports, politics and film — places where people, particularly in the Black community, have often looked for inspiration during a year of racial tension and protests against the police brutality of unarmed Black people.

But for many, the loss of another major figure such as Boseman is taking a toll. The actor, who starred in the blockbuster superhero Marvel film “Black Panther,” shockingly died at the age of 43 in his home in Los Angeles after he privately battled colon cancer for four years.

“These are pillars in our community,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “In times of instability, you depend on pillars. It’s bad enough when there’s a storm outside and you hear the lightning and thunder. It gets worse when the pillars that you’re building and standing on (are) shaking. It’s like they’re chipping away at our foundation. The very building is shaking down, because the things that undergird and protect us from the storms are being removed.”

Sharpton called Boseman an important pillar that humanized several Black historical trailblazers in his roles — including colour-line breaking baseball star Jackie Robinson, legendary singer James Brown and the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Boseman’s family said he endured “countless surgeries and chemotherapy” while portraying King T’Challa of Wakanda in the Oscar-nominated “Black Panther,” a film that proved a person of colour could lead in a successful superhero film.

“For him to pass at this time when we are disproportionately affected by COVID and have all of these attacks by law enforcement, and him being the symbol bringing us to Wakanda, it’s just a blow,” Sharpton said. “To hear that our superhero who projected a positive light was now gone, it was a gut blow.”

Boseman was elevated to a stage that many Black actors don’t get the chance to occupy, said Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. And his ability to be “transcendent” on that stage brought a comic book character to life for many in the Black community.

“Even though we knew that it was like a fictional story, it actually felt real. It actually felt like we finally had our Black superhero and nobody could touch us. So to lose that, it’s sad in our community,” James said, lamenting on the loss of “the Black Panther and the Black Mamba in the same year.”

In January, Bryant died in a helicopter crash involving eight others including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Lewis died in July after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.

Other notable deaths this year include actress Naya Rivera, civil rights leader C.T. Vivian and music executive Andre Harrell.

“The year 2020 has been up and down for everybody,” Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo said, adding that Boseman left “so much behind.”

ALSO READ: Man shot by police in Wisconsin no longer handcuffed to hospital bed

“It’s a lot to unpack,” said Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul. “Chadwick was a special guy. I think everyone took it hard, especially the Black community. That was one of our black superheroes. I think ‘Black Panther’ was something so powerful, for myself along with my kids to see a superhero that looks like them and the way that he played it with such class and elegance. That was tough.”

Activist Martin Luther King III called Boseman’s death another “great loss.” But he encourages people not to lose hope even in a year of tumult.

“We could easily say ‘Oh my God. This is the most terrible year that existed.’ But I choose not to say that,” said the son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Our ancestors had to go through so, so much. And yet, we’re still here. We are nowhere where we need to be, but we are always making progress and moving ahead.”

Gil Robertson, the co-founder and president of the African American Film Critics Association, said Black people are at a critical crossroads of their survival in America.

“We’re getting it from all sides of the fort,” Robertson said. “We’re losing these strong men. These men who operated with a level of integrity. A level of authenticity. I find all of this alarming. I hope that our community can really come together. … Not just for one cause. Just to make a consistent effort to rehabilitate our community.”

___

AP Sports Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report from Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

___

Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Cancer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paddlers donned witch costumes a week ahead of Halloween for an event raising funds for the North Shuswap Christmas Hamper. (Sue Stilling photo)
Witches float for a good cause in the North Shuswap

Costumed paddlers turned heads on the north arm of Shuswap Lake while raising money for charity

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

Const. Camron Ganzeveld of the Chase RCMP detachment receives his nomination to Alexa’s Team from Sgt. Barry Kennedy in September 2020 for his efforts in taking impaired drivers off the road in 2019. (RCMP image)
RCMP officer in Chase recognized for arresting impaired drivers

Constable joins team named after girl killed by impaired driver

The South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce is encouraging residents to support local businesses with Shop the South Shu campaign. (Google maps image)
Campaign aims to support South Shuswap businesses through winter

Chamber highlights benefits of shopping local with Shop the South Shu

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

École de L’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
Interior Health investigating ‘developments’ at Kelowna school with COVID-19 case

Officials confirmed a case of the virus at École de L’Anse-au-sable on Tuesday

Vernon Fire Rescue Services work to put out a structure fire in an abandoned house on Highway 97 and 39th Avenue Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Abandoned house goes up in flames in Vernon

Single-lane traffic remains in effect on Highway 97 in both directions

The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen is launching an initiative to provide horse-assisted therapy to frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (Black Press file photo)
Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen to provide horse-assisted therapy

Therapy sessions will be offered to frontline workers during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Paul Singla walks towards his Penticton home on Heather Road in 2018 after CBSA officers raided it. (File photo)
Singla and Toor make first court appearances on immigration fraud

The Okanagan men had their cases adjourned until 2021

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Most Read