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  • Writer's pictureNina Washington

Bae Boseman, Forever: My Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Opening Night of Black Panther. Tinseltown Theater. Pearl, MS.


When I woke this morning, the news of Chadwick Boseman’s death was sitting in my WhatsApp Cali Cousin Thread. I’m usually not too fazed by celebrity deaths. After all, they too, are human. But this one really hit me hard and it hurts. I've already cried 3 times this morning.

Those who know me know my affection for Chadwick Boseman who I have affectionately called “Bae Boseman” for the past 7 years — ever since I saw his breakout role in “42”. I’ll never forget going to the private showing in Palo Alto with my Cali Cousins and marveling (no pun intended) at this beautiful chocolate man with an underbite, tooth gap, and swagger to boot. I’ve been his biggest fan ever since. ( SN: That was also the night I met MC Hammer. Oops! I mean Stanley Burrell, but I digress!)

Fast forward to 2014’s “Get On Up,” much of which was filmed in my home state of Mississippi. In fact, two of my friends were cast as musicians in the movie! I remember asking one of them about Chadwick. He reported that Chadwick was a cool dude and I’d probably be his type! Ha! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

And then there was 2018’s “Black Panther”. On a Tuesday night, dressed in our African garb (the skirt I wore was hand made in Liberia), myself and two of my best girlfriends experienced the blockbuster hit that put Wakanda and black excellence on the map – both literally and figuratively. I remember the pride and sheer joy Chadwick Boseman’s role brought to the entire black and African diaspora.

Just a few weeks ago, I watched Boseman's brief but powerful role in "Da 5 Bloods." That role now feels like a foreshadowing of what was to come.

For the better part of a decade, I’ve been riding hard for “Bae Boseman”. He was HBCU educated (Howard University if you didn’t know! The same alma mater as now VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris). He was a talented actor. He was an absolutely beautiful and attractive black man. He spoke out on social injustice and he was a soldier in the fight against colon cancer.

And now he is gone.

Another of our greats, this time a superhero, has lost the fight against cancer. Yet there is a bigger message here. A message that vies for just as much of our attention. For 4 years Chadwick Boseman worked and produced amid and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. He didn’t make excuses. He lived his life to the fullest. He starred in the role of his life while also fighting for his life. He lived like there was no tomorrow. Perhaps he knew there wouldn’t be.

For me, his death was yet another wake-up call. When I leave this earth, I want no regrets. I want the record to reflect more days filled with joy than sorrow. I want the peace and satisfaction of knowing I did what made me happy. I did what brought me joy. I will rest well in knowing I didn't carry the burden of others’ expectations of what my life should look like.

Thank you, Mr. Boseman. Thank you for your example. Thank you for being (unbeknownst to you, of course) Bae. Thank you for the dignity and grace you exemplified over the past four years as you fought the battle of your life. You will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Bae Boseman, forever.

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