The shock of Chadwick Boseman’s sudden passing on August 28th is still resonating. New recollections of his real-life heroics, philanthropy, and kindness are still being uncovered, making his passing—if you can imagine it—even more tragic.
Chad’s professional accomplishments have been well chronicled. Interestingly, he gravitated to roles that portrayed larger than life personas like Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and ultimately superhero King T’Challa. His legacy will undoubtedly be linked with breathing life into Black Panther, starting with the tribute mural aptly titled, “King Chad” by Disney artist Nikkolas Smith. The mural captures not only Chad’s essence as a superhero, but also his benevolent grace as a super man.
The breathtaking mural is the latest tribute to Black excellence by Nikkolas Smith. In addition to his artwork for Disney, Nikkolas uses his talent as activism, creating tributes to victims of police shootings. The “King Chad” mural, located in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District, was a labor of love for the artist who called it, “a full circle moment and tremendous honor”.
While Chad’s career was soaring, his health was failing. He never said a word; not when he was being trolled on social media, not when he had surgery or after several rounds of chemo. For four years he was literally fighting for his life. Not a word. There’s such strength in that—Super Man strength.
I couldn’t help but wonder where that kind of perseverance and resilience originated. What had he experienced in life that inspired such noble endurance? And then it hit me. His super power was he was a Black man! His whole life prepared him to smile in the face of adversity, ignoring naysayers and gossipers. Continuing to show up and work through pain and suffering—that’s what Black men do every day! It made me smile to know that Chad’s most important portrayal was that of a strong, kind, resilient real-life Black man. Thank you, Chad. We needed that.
It will be bittersweet to watch Chad’s last performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, scheduled for release on December 18, 2020 on Netflix. It will undoubtedly hit different knowing the untold suffering he was enduring. Rest in Peace, King Chad.
To obtain a print of the “King Chad” mural and to see other artwork by Nikkolas Smith, please visit his website nikkolas.art.