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Workers officially installed the letters honoring late actor and Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman on Wednesday, September 2.
The Historically Black College announced at the end of May that its College of Fine Arts would be renamed for the Black Panther superstar.
His early death in 2020 from colon cancer at the age of 43 shocked millions around the world.
“Icon” honored with renaming of college
In a Twitter post, the University called him “An icon in his own right who has left an immeasurable legacy for the next generation.”
Well known for his role as a producer, writer, director and actor, Boseman electrified fans around the world in films portraying high-profile African American figures like James Brown and Jackie Robinson, along with his last film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Following that film, Boseman won a posthumous Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an ambitious jazz musician.
Boseman graduated from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing. He also studied under the leadership of Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable in the Cosby Show. Rashad became the Dean of the College of Fine Arts weeks before it announced the renaming.
“When Chadwick Boseman returned to campus in 2018 to serve as our commencement speaker, he called Howard a magical place. During his visit, I announced our plans to reestablish the College of Fine Arts and he was filled with ideas and plans to support the effort in a powerful way,” said President Frederick.
“Chadwick’s love for Howard University was sincere, and although he did not live to see those plans through to fruition, it is my honor to ensure his legacy lives on through the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts with the support of his wife and the Chadwick Boseman Foundation,” he added.
Ultimately, Boseman inspired millions in both life and death. Through his film Black Panther, he inspired a generation of young people to see themselves as brilliant, powerful, and heroic. In death, he’s inspired communities to take their health more seriously, especially when it comes to the risks of developing colon cancer.
Boseman’s death highlights colon cancer rates in Black men, women
Despite rates of colon cancer generally declining over the last few decades, Black men and Black women are more likely to develop and die from the disease than any other racial group in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
George J. Chang, MD is Department Chair ad interim for the Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
“The relationship between race and colorectal cancer is complex,” George Chang, M.D. said in an article published by the Center. “But we do know that the differences in incidence and survival are mostly due to disparities in access to health care and the age of diagnosis.”
Moreover, Black men and women are also more likely to develop colon cancer at a younger age, which has created a sense of urgency for people to get colonoscopy screenings sooner in life.
Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is independent from the U.S. government, recommended regular screenings for colon cancer starting at age 45, five years earlier than previous recommendations.
Honoring a legacy
In the case of Chadwick Boseman, loved ones say his legacy continues to inspire even after his death. As a student, Boseman protested the consolidation of the College of Fine Arts into another college.
“I am extremely pleased that Howard University has chosen to honor my husband in this way and elated that Ms. Rashad has accepted the role as Dean,” said Boseman’s wife, Simone Ledward-Boseman.
“Chad was a very proud Bison — both Howard and Ms. Rashad played integral roles in his journey as an artist. The re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts brings this part of his story full-circle and ensures that his legacy will continue to inspire young storytellers for years to come.”
According to CNN, Marvel Entertainment owner Walt Disney also plans to build a new facility at the school and offer an endowment in honor of Boseman.