It’s a sad day having woken up this morning to the sad news that Chadwick Boseman passed last night. As we all continue to struggle through 2020, it seems that these sad pieces of news just keep coming.
Noted in a statement from his family, Chadwick Boseman had been battling colon cancer quietly for four years, and continued to film for movies and television in between chemotherapy, surgeries and health complications. He battled progressive colon cancer from 2016, and died in his home with his family around him last night.
Actors and actresses have a unique way of impacting our lives, and leaving their mark on us individually. I will always have that appreciation for the likes of Samuel L Jackson for his role in Coach Carter, Denzel Washington for his role in Remember the Titans, and Chadwick Boseman is also a member of that list. Deep, powerful, resounding performances.
Chadwick as Jackie Robinson
My appreciation for his work comes from the movie ’42’. I didn’t know the story of Jackie Robinson. I wasn’t a big baseball guy, so I never crossed paths with the name until the movie came along, and I was stunned. It now remains to be one of my favourite sports movies and one that I’ve recommended widely because of how powerful it really is.
An incredibly difficult role to fill, Boseman perfectly portrays the struggles that Jackie Robinson once faced as the first black man in the modern era to enter the Major Leagues of Baseball, for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15th, 1947. Met with deeply ingrained racism, oppression and hatred, the things Robinson faced were extreme.
Racist slurs as he stepped up to bat, pitchers throwing baseballs at his head, other players trying to injure him, his own team mates signing a petition not to play alongside him, hotels refusing to accept the team, the list goes on. And Chadwick Boseman brings it to life so well.
The scene where it all finally gets the better of him, as he darts off down the tunnel and shatters his bat in anger, screaming out of frustration, is just so good. The movie is such a rollercoaster and we really owe that to him. His acting performance to shed light on one of the most important stories in sports history is one for the ages. I still do, and will, continue to watch the movie in complete amazement at how life really was for a young African American man not so long ago, and how his resistance and perseverance to such outcasting paved the way for many African American athletes to follow.
In a strange and somewhat awesome way, yesterday was Jackie Robinson day in the MLB. Typically, on April 15th every year, the entire baseball league wears the number 42. Every player. This year they moved the date due to COVID delays, and hosted Jackie Robinson day yesterday. The tribute pays respect to Robinson each year, and I guess last night the respects were two fold.
It would be a sin not to mention his role in Black Panther as King T’Challa, stamping his mark on the Marvel series, and breaking ground once again for African American talent. The movie is widely recognised as a ‘cultural milestone’ for having a majority black cast, and black director Ryan Coogler.
And of course, for his part in the movie draft day, which will continue to be a tradition on the night of the first round of the draft for many years to come.
Vontae Mack… no matter what.
Rest in peace king.
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