We are greeting the morning in a world where King T’Challa has ascended.
Yes, he was a fictional character in the fictional land of Wakanda, but to so many of those in my literary circle, he was part of all that was possible. The fictional world of Wakanda was imagined as we read SLAY and could see all the regal possibilities of being in the diaspora.
Chadwick Boseman died in the privacy of his home, a gift in itself. He is a public figure, an actor who shifted cultural narratives at a time when it was sorely needed. He exhibited an imagined possibility. In his character playing the young Thurgood Marshall, set in my new home state of Connecticut, he showed us determination and letting one’s skills speak for you. In Jackie Robinson and all his other films, he brought such depth to his characters that we came to associate him as them, most especially with Wakanda.
In this literary circle, we meet every summer for ten weeks to step into the world of words that created such characters as those in The Black Panther. In this world, we could just be, as one of our recent alumni noted in her choice to go to an HBCU, despite being heavily recruited by a PWI, she just wanted to be herself and not have to be the black girl with locs who writes and fights for social justice. Chadwick Boseman was a graduate of Howard University, “The Mecca” where all Black creative thought was allowed to flourish and flow. He came from a long line of those who matriculated in the shadow of the nation’s capital, keeping their eyes on the prize for future generations.
We, the founder, director, advisory council, and team of The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle, extend our deepest condolences to Mrs. Boseman and the entire family of Chadwick Boseman. To his publicist and agent, who supported him through his four year journey of cancer while leaving his legacy in such monumental roles. And finally, to his fans, to the young people who came of age in the shadow of what could be, we mourn with you.