SACRAMENTO, Calif — Wakanda Forever! The iconic salute made popular by Chadwick Boseman in the film "Black Panther" became a call of kinship for Black people around the world after the movie's release in 2018. Now, it means so much more.
Boseman, who played King T'Challa in "Black Panther," died Friday after a four-year battle with colon cancer, according to an announcement by his family.
Fans were shocked and saddened by the news.
Princton Brennan, a self-described nerd with a love for comic books, said Boseman's death "hit a little harder." Brennan, like Boseman, grew up in the South and attended a historically Black college/university (HBCU). It was like losing someone he was close to, Brennan said.
“It was more than Black Panther. He played a lot of our Black historical figures. He did a lot for the community. He went back to talk at HBCU campuses. This could've been me or someone I went to school with. It kind of hit home a little harder... It hurt," Brennan said.
Playing Black Panther may be Boseman's most popular role, but he also portrayed Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and James Brown on the big screen.
Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther was a celebration of Black culture, Black excellence, and Black people. The images of the predominantly Black cast were a long-awaited answer to calls for more diversity in Hollywood.
“He is a brown boy like me,” said 6-year-old Jonah Callahan. The first-grader said "Black Panther" makes him happy.
Callahan's mom, Jasmine Colley Feltus, said she was worried about breaking the news to her son. But she said she was blown away by his response.
“My sons says, ‘Superheroes don’t die, their spirits live,'" she said.
Feltus said when she was Jonah's age, she never imagined having the kinds of Black representation her son is growing up with.
“What a tremendous gift to be born and to be young and to be Black at this time, even in the middle of all the turmoil," she said. "My son has been born into a generation that started off with a Black president then had Chadwick Boseman playing all these wonderful portrayals of real-life and superheroes on the screen. He doesn’t know anything other than that.”
The film, and Boseman’s performance as King T’Challa, have left a lasting impact. Like kings before him, Boseman now rests on the Ancestral Plane.
Mark sits down with the man behind the mask, Chadwick Boseman, to talk about "Black Panther."