I am still devastated that Chadwick Boseman passed away on Friday. Every time I see a picture or tribute a fresh wave of tears well up. It would seem that Chadwick’s appeal was transcendent and the impact of his short career was nothing short of spectacular.
We know that while Chadwick was battling stage three colon cancer, he was filming several movies between treatments and surgeries. He was also visiting terminally ill children while private fighting his own illness.
Another story that has resurfaced is how Denzel Washington paid for Chadwick Boseman to attend a prestigious summer drama program at Oxford when he was a student at Howard University. Chadwick said that he wouldn’t be who he was if it weren’t for the generosity of Denzel Washington then. People has more about the story:
Last year, Boseman shared the full story while honoring Washington before the Malcolm X actor accepted the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington, when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, gracefully and privately agreed to contribute,” Boseman said in June 2019.
“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” he continued. “Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.”
“There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” Boseman later added.
On the Oscars red carpet a year prior, Boseman opened up about the moment when he finally got a chance to thank Washington for his support.
“It was a fun conversation. The first thing he said was, ‘You owe me money! I came to collect!’” Boseman recalled to ABC’s Michael Strahan at the time. “It was so deep, I can’t even go into it right now. We sort of just talked about what’s been happening, what’s about to happen.”
I’ve been a fan of Chadwick’s since I first saw him in Get On Up. I told a friend that he played James Brown better than James Brown. I left the theater wanting to know who he was. I knew he would be doing great things. When it was announced that he’d play Black Panther in the MCU, I got really excited. But the his execution of the role was more than I could hope for as a Marvel fan.
I saw Black Panther five times in theaters and paid for three of my friends to attend showings. It was a moment and Chadwick was at the center of a major cultural movement. He will always be remembered for his portrayal of Black Panther and several iconic black figures. Learning about the generosity of Denzel Washington also left an impression on me. Denzel didn’t know that one day that young man he helped would end up being a star.
I believe that Chadwick’s generosity, especially when it came to the ill children he visited, not only came from his generous soul but also with the thought that he wouldn’t be where he was if it wasn’t for the thoughtfulness of Denzel Washington. In fact he introduced Denzel at the This full circle moment also proves how connected we are and is the best example of paying it forward.
Here is the full video of that tribute:
Here’s Chadwick’s tribute to Denzel, who received the AFI Life Achievement Award:
photos credit: Avalon.red and WENN