Last summer, Chadwick Boseman unexpectedly passed away from colon cancer at the age of 43. His death shocked fans around the world, many of whom had no idea he was battling cancer in the first place. Now, Howard University is honoring the late Black Panther actor with arguably the most timeless gesture of all: naming its newly re-established College of Fine Arts after Boseman.
Back in 2000, Boseman graduated from Howard with a bachelor of arts degree in directing and, in the years that followed, never missed an opportunity to champion the prestigious HBCU. “We are very excited. This is the right thing to do,” Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick told the Washington Post. “Chadwick’s love for Howard University was sincere, and although he did not live to see those plans through to fruition, it is my honor to ensure his legacy lives on.”
According to the Washington Post, Bob Iger, the executive chairman of Walt Disney Co., will spearhead the fundraising of an endowment named after Boseman and raising money to construct a state-of-the-art building on the campus. That new building will house the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, the TV station WHUT, and the radio station WHUR 96.3 FM.
“Through his tremendous example, he inspired millions to overcome adversity, dream big and reach beyond the status quo, and this college named in his honor at his beloved Howard University will provide opportunities for future generations of artists to follow in his footsteps and pursue their dreams,” said Iger in a statement.
In 2018, Boseman received an honorary doctorate from Howard and served as that year’s commencement speaker, where he gave an inspiring speech to the graduating class and faculty. “When you have reached the hilltop and you’re deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job for a career. Purpose crosses disciplines,” he says in the speech. “Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me — the path to my destiny.” The 34-minute speech is well worth your time, and it’s available to rewatch below.
Earlier this year, Boseman posthumously won a Golden Globe for Best Actor, was nominated for an Academy Award, and received a special Actor’s Tribute at the Gotham Awards. Countless others paid their respects to the late performer after his passing, including Spike Lee, Michael B. Jordan, and Ryan Coogler. His hometown of Anderson, South Carolina plans to erect a statue in his honor as well.