Chadwick Boseman just passed away from a 4 year long battle with cancer. When it first happened, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. However, I must also admit that being white, I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude. My wife, who is a woman of color was really distraught over his death. It seemed like amidst all of the social injustice, this one in particular ignited something in her, like it just became too much to bear with his passing. I realize now it wasn’t just the passing of Chadwick, but what he represented in the roles he played. Roles like Jackie Robinson in the movie “42” or T’challa in Black Panther. He represented that people of color could be heroes too. That is why it matters.
My wife said to me, “he was our hero”
I remember when we both went to go see Black Panther, I remember us both crying as we saw heroes of color on the big screen. I was crying, because I think I realized at that moment how little of that I had actually seen in my life. I believe my wife was crying because she could see herself in those incredibly heroic women of color on the big screen. It is something I know she hadn’t seen a lot of growing up – heroes that look like her embraced by everyone. Now having a son who is half white and half black, it hits different.
It makes sense that this movie would have the impact it had when you think about how the Black Panther character came to be.
Around 1950, at the age of 34 Stan Lee was going to give up on his comic book career, but his wife told him to just give it one more shot and write about the type of characters he would want to read about. From this came the Marvel Revolution:The Fantastic four, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men.
Stan Lee believed that a “Story without a message is like a man without a soul”. This Sunday for our virtual church service we will be talking about “Heroic Courage: Answering the Call”. We will look at what it takes to have the courage to answer the call of God. I think Stan Lee displayed a lot of courage when he came up with the Black Panther character “T’challa” we all have come to know and love.
Black Panther was created in 1966 at the height of the civil rights movement! Think about that! An African Hero who was smarter, wealthier, and more technologically advanced than any other and this character was made during the golden age of comic books. Stan Lee must have worried about his brand, his reputation, and the status quo but he was willing to take the risk and create a story with a message. The message that no matter the color of your skin, you matter! You are a Hero!
I believe that stories help us to connect with the eternal. Why do you think Jesus told so many parables? Story telling is so powerful, it can cause us to think differently and inspire us. Stories help us touch the eternal.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart
Deep within our hearts we know that there exists a place where we matter, where we are valued, where we are fully known and fully loved, Heaven…our own brand of “Wakanda.” Stories like that of Black Panther can help us get in touch with that eternal mystery if even only a moment. That is why the death of Chadwick hurts, it can feel like the death of a dream.
The truth is we all play a crucial role right now in God’s story, we are all meant to be heroes in this story. You were destined for greatness. We know this because he sent his son to die for you. I heard someone say one time, “you are worth one God” that is how much God loves you, He came down and died for you as if you were the only person in the world.
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Hang in there. Take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel. Remember that our hero is coming back for us and you are still the hero in the meantime.
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”[a]
Thank you Stan Lee for your courage to create a character in a time where it would not have been popular. Thank you Chadwick for embodying the spirit of the character as you played him on the big screen. Thank you God for showing us our value when you sent Jesus, and thank you for letting us know we can all be heroes because of your Son.
Rest in Peace Chadwick – Wakanda Forever.
You can Check out all of our devotionals from our new series on Culture & Race here
You can check out all of Devotionals here