6 Powerful Takeaways From Chadwick Boseman’s 2018 Commencement Address

On August 28, 2020, the world lost Chadwick Boseman, an incredible actor who devoted his life to integrity and equality. He passed away at just 43 years old, but he was wise beyond his years.

While he’s best known for playing T’Challa, the lead character in “Black Panther,” Boseman also portrayed several important historical figures, including Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. Along the way, he created a powerful legacy of selflessness and courage!

Back in 2018, he returned to Howard University, his alma mater, to deliver a commencement address to the graduating class.

We know now that Boseman delivered these moving words in the middle of his four-year battle with colon cancer, which makes his message even more poignant today. Here are six important takeaways we all need to hear in this uncertain season of life.


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1. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and others.

One of Boseman’s first acting jobs was on a national soap opera. While he was thrilled to have landed his first high-paying, high-profile role, he felt conflicted by his character.

After confronting the show writers over the stereotypical nature of his character, he was fired. This was a huge setback for him, but he knew he had to stay true to himself and refused to perpetuate harmful racial stereotypes.

2. If you get knocked down, get right back up.

“Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how need to fight it,” he said.

3. Find purpose, not just work.

“Purpose crosses disciplines,” he added. “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.”

4. Things happen for a reason.

“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.”

 5. Grades aren’t everything.

“Sometimes your grades don’t give a real indication of what your greatness might be.”

 6. Enjoy each moment as it comes.

“Invest in the importance of this moment and cherish it,” Boseman urged the students. “Savor the tastes of your triumphs today. Don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what is actually happening. Look down over what you conquered and appreciate what God has brought you through.”

He wrapped up his speech by telling his school, “I love you, Howard,” and even added a “Black Panther” shout-out with a grin. Finally, he urged the graduating class to “press on with pride and press on with purpose.”

What an inspiring message! We’re so glad we have his own words to reflect on as we recall a life well-lived — and mourn the loss of a hero taken too soon.

Watch his entire speech in the video below, and share these wise words with your loved ones.

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