The Ascension of a King: Chadwick Boseman, Legacy, and Black Dignity – Before I began to write this piece, it was important for me to clear my energy, connect with my heart, and channel my thoughts. Assuming my preferred meditative position, I softened my gaze and retreated within. The hauntingly beautiful strings of the song Kings by singer, songwriter, and producer Kosine crescendoed, lifting my soul in preparation for what collaborator Idris Elba describes as the “mental enrichment.”

Kings are falling every day.
And, kings are rising just the same
But when will we know who we are?
I see your light, you are my star.

Blessed are those who make it home,
To know that you are never alone.
And, know its okay to cry.
Can’t get no better in my eyes.

As the track came to an end, I thanked the ancestors for their blessings and asked for their guidance as I prepared to use my gifts to honor yet another Black king who has ascended to rightfully take his place at their side–Chadwick Boseman. If you are unfamiliar with this imagery, then you are unfamiliar with the West African cultural concept of Death in which life is not understood to end but to begin anew once the spirit leaves the body. After physical death, we are said to experience a spiritual rebirth in which the soul lives outside of the body in the ancestral plane. In the Marvel Comic Universe film Black Panther, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) twice visits the ancestral plane during his quest to rightfully take his place as The Black Panther. On Friday, August 28th, Chadwick Boseman replayed this imitation of the life cycle as his spirit shed its mortal body and ascended to become one of the ancestors.

The year 2020 has been emotionally, mentally, and physically draining for so many Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). Our bodies have been locked in cages at the border, trafficked across state lines, beaten during peaceful protests, shot in the open from behind while running for exercise or away in fear, shot in the protection of our homes while awake or asleep, and asphyxiated under the knees of those who vow to protect. This never-ending stream of injustices and the trauma porn that surfaces in their wake have been damaging–in some cases beyond repair–to our minds, bodies, and spirits. During dark times, we naturally gravitate toward the light, toward beacons of hope within our own communities. The star of Chadwick Boseman reflected brightly in the eyes of so many–young, old, male, female, famous, and unknown. As kings, and queens, were falling under the weight of living and dying while Black in America, Mr. Boseman was rising whilst suffering silently.

During his short-lived but illustrious acting career, Chadwick Boseman created a legacy of his own by honoring those of pioneering African-Americans such as Jackie Robinson (42, 2013), James Brown (Get On Up, 2014), and Thurgood Marshall (Marshall, 2017) on the silver screen. He would solidify his status as a real-life hero by proudly assuming the role of T’Challa (Black Panther, 2018). His portrayal of the king of an independent African country, albeit fictional, rich in natural resources and leading in unprecedented technological advancement, allowed black and brown children across the globe to imagine new possibilities for not only their futures but also all of humanity. As he publicly entertained and educated us with his performances, Mr. Boseman silently waged a hard-fought battle against colon cancer.

In a statement about his song Kings, Kosine said, “In times like these we find out together who we are and who we aren’t. I want all of my brothers to know that they are KINGS contrary to the false narrative of traditional mass media. It is my hope that the princes of today grow in this knowledge and lead us into a future honouring the sacrifices of their ancestors.” Chadwick Boseman’s life is an example of all that is important and, unfortunately, not frequently attributed to BIPOC–sacrifice, service, strength, and dignity. Understandably, we mourn his loss on this plane; however, as on Earth, his life in Heaven is indeed blessed. Through his ascension to the ancestral plane and transcendence as an ancestral spirit, Chadwick Boseman will forever contribute to the betterment of Black people. As an ancestor, may he continue to serve as a representative of our ethics, values, struggle, and perseverance. In his honor, may the living look to him for guidance as we continue to stand against the forces that threaten our very existence.

So it is, let it be.
Long live the king.

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Dana Thompson, M.Ed. has been a fine arts educator in Greater Austin Area secondary public schools for over a decade. After years spent working in theatrical wardrobe and commercial makeup artistry, she found her calling in the classroom guiding young people to become innovative, well-rounded thinkers prepared for a future in the global economy. Never-married, Dana had an unconventional journey into motherhood. Although the births of her two sons flipped, turned her life upside down, she is proud to include the title of “boy mom” to her many accolades. When she is not surrounded by her children, at school or at home, Dana enjoys getting into good trouble with the diverse women who complete her tribe.

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