Khloe and Kaleb, ages 4 and 5, respectively, drove down from Spartanburg, South Carolina with their family to celebrate the life of actor Chadwick Boseman.
Anderson, South Carolina, Mayor Terence Roberts presided over the ceremony which took place in Boseman’s hometown of Anderson on Thursday. The outdoor tribute included speeches remembering the actor, presentations from local artists and a screening of the “Black Panther” film.
Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of James Brown, remembered Boseman saying, “We must look after each other as if we were a single tribe.” Brown-Thomas said that the “Black Panther” actor made them very proud. “He wasn’t Hollywood, and I loved that about him,” Brown-Thomas said. “He was just Chadwick, from Anderson, South Carolina. I looked at him as a younger brother though he played my father.”
Crystal Dacus, Tammy Alexander, Sharon Cooley, Tonya Chester and Dmme Chester gathered together for the memorial. Dmme, the youngest member of the family, said she was 14 or 15 when Black Panther came out. Reflecting on the movie’s impact in her life, she said, “It was definitely different from any other movie I’d watched; it painted Black family in a different way than I’d ever seen before.”
Samuel Neely, the former pastor of Welfare Baptist Church, of which Boseman was a member, recounted the story of when a high-school-aged Boseman presented a play he had written to the Baptist Education Congress. “Tears began to fall from those that observed it,” Neely said. “Many came to me and were shocked to see such a young man have such talent and be able to use it in such a way.”
Evette Brown and Lisa Byrd from Pendleton, South Carolina said they were shocked at the news. Many people present at the ceremony had some connection to the Boseman family, which is very involved in the Anderson community. “I wanted to put on my Facebook page, ‘I hope what I just heard is not true,’” Byrd said. “But I didn’t know if the family or anybody knew yet.”
Local artists contributed artwork to the event depicting the many forms Boseman took in his acting career. Left to right: “Too Soon” by Nat Morris, “Keep Striving,” and “Forever” by Patro Ulmer.
Cousins Zayden and Jaeden held onto a “Black Panther” action figure during the screening. A family member said they couldn’t count how many times the pair had seen the movie since its release in early 2018.
Joe Burton and Shirley Burton had a friend who used to take care of Boseman at the daycare center when he was a child. When the actor passed away, she called Shirley Burton and said, “It’s the saddest day in Anderson.” Shirley Burton reminisced on her friend’s words. “She said they used to call him ‘Crying Chad’ because he used to cry when his parents left him at the daycare, but then he grew up and moved the furthest away from home,” Shirley Burton said.
On the evening of the memorial, the unbearable heat and humidity of South Carolina had been replaced with a cool breeze. “What a day God has given us to celebrate this life,” Brown-Thomas said.