student here, you could just tell the talent he had,” said Sheila Hilton, Boseman’s old principal at T.L. Hanna High School in South Carolina. “He was winning at everything he competed in.”
Boseman graduated from Hanna High School in 1995.
“Chad was just a joy to have here,” Hilton said.
He made himself known at his alma mater during plays, also as an athlete and as ‘Mr. T.L. Hanna.’
“He also, here at Hanna, was in the Speech and Debate program. He also was very talented at that,” Hilton said. “We were just sort of waiting for him to get his big break,” Hilton said.
He later graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC, in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. He also graduated from the British American Drama Academy in Oxford. Boseman had wanted to write and direct and initially began studying acting to learn how to relate to actors. While in New York, he studied digital filmmaking at the Digital Film Academy.
Boseman was the drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career in 2008.
In one of his most memorable speeches, which is getting shared around the internet worldwide, Boseman is seen clearly as an inspirational man. The commencement speech to his alma mater, Howard, he encapsulates everything we admire in him and inspires a generation.
Here is a transcription of the last part of his speech:
What do you do when the principle and the standards that were instilled in you here at Howard closed the doors in front of you? Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how need to fight it.
At some point, my mind reverted back to my experiences here, to the professors that challenged me and struggled against me, Professor Robert Williams, Doctor Singleton, George Epstein, to name a few, the ones that will fail you out of the goodness of their hearts. This may be hard to grasp for some of you right now, but I even considered President Swygert and how negotiating with him was practice for a world that was considerably more cruel and unforgiving than any debate here, one that had no interest in my ideals and beliefs. How would I maneuver through all of this?
Finally, I thought of Ali in the middle of the yard in his elder years, drawing from his victories and his losses. At that moment I realized something new about the greatness of Ali and how he carried his crown. I realized that he was transferring something to me on that day. He was transferring the spirit of the fighter in me. He was transferring the spirit of the fighter to me. He was transferring the spirit of the fighter to me. Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Graduating class, hear me well on this day. This day, when you have reached the hill top and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill.
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.
When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone that’s holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you. I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory then you will not regret it.
Now, this is your time. The light of new realizations shines on you today. Howard’s legacy is not wrapped up in the money that you will make, but the challenges that you choose to confront. As you commence to your paths, press on with pride and press on with purpose. God bless you. I love you, Howard. Howard forever!”
Boseman leaves behind his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, whom he married just before his passing, reports say.
He will forever be missed. Even now, it’s hard to believe he’s no longer here.
Rest in peace, brother. We love you.