Chadwick Boseman Through the Eyes of My Son

My Little Black Panther
My Little Black Panther

My son, Giovanni, “met” Chadwick Boseman via his iconic role as King T’Challa in the Black Panther. Now, at age five, he has worn his Black Panther Halloween costume almost every day since he was 3-years-old. When Giovanni says, “Mommy, I am going to change into Black Panther now,” he is not solely referring to the impending wardrobe change; but rather, his performance is an absolute incarnation of the character.

Each night after bath time, my son escapes from the shield of his wet towel. He dashes through the hallway, down the stairs, over the banister and somehow lands safely on the living room floor. His dad or I run chasing after him with underwear and pajamas in hand…only to find him in the openness of the family room performing the dances from Black Panther…our nightly ritual.

Chadwick Boseman left my son much more to cherish than even King T’Challa. Along with books and the art of good ole’ fashioned storytelling, Chadwick’s emblematic roles will also serve to educate my son about the lives of African American icons Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall.

According to writer, Kelley L. Carter, Chadwick Boseman “knew his voice had power and used it to challenge Hollywood.” As a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, I have spent most of my career speaking truth to power, even when it cost me so much. I pray that my son will inherit a spirit of righteous indignation, just as I have inherited from my parents.

I have hidden my son’s Black Panther costume many times. He has outgrown it, and it is bursting at the seams, yet he insists on wearing it. Each time that I hide it, he always seems to unearth it. May Giovanni’s refusal to allow me to bury that costume be symbolic of the perpetual spirit, memory and ever-burning flame of Chadwick Boseman…a light that will never die.

Thank you, Chadwick, for being such a great role model & example to my son & to all!

May we see you again!

Read how Dr. Krishauna Hines-Gaither prepared her son for a world that may not respect his humanity as a young African American male.

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