Howard University recently partnered with Netflix to establish a $5.4 million scholarship in honor of the late actor and Howard alum Chadwick A. Boseman. The scholarship was awarded to one recipient in each class at Howard University: Sarah Long, a freshman musical theatre major; Shawn Smith, a sophomore acting major; Janee’ Ferguson, a junior theatre arts administration major; and Deirdre Dunkin, a senior dance major.
The annual Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship is set to cover full tuition over four years for incoming, first-year students. Howard renamed the College of Fine Arts earlier this year.
“Preference for the scholarship will be given to students in the dramatic arts who exemplify his values, including a drive for excellence, leadership, respect, empathy, and passion,” wrote President Frederick in a statement.
Boseman is best known as King T’Challa in “Black Panther,” however he began building his legacy long before 2016.
The late movie star was mentored by the current Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Phylicia Rashad. Boseman always approached the arts as a catalyst for change. While mastering his skills under the esteemed Rashad, Boseman fought to preserve the college when it was at risk of dissolving in 1998.
Margaret Johnson, senior music business major, says the culture within Howard’s Fine Arts division has always pushed students to hold integrity and to put their efforts toward “works and projects that mean something which I feel like he [Boseman] really did and embodied.”
Though Boseman graduated in 2000, the principles of combining art and activism stuck with him as he continuously praised Howard protesters throughout his career. In 2018, Boseman returned to his alma mater to deliver a commencement speech, in which he encouraged students to continue to speak out against injustice.
“Everything you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you,” Boseman said.
Howard University and Netflix created the scholarship with the full support of Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward Boseman. After the announcement, Ledward-Boseman said she was, “Overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the love and dedication shown by so many continuing to honor my husband’s work. I know he’d be proud.”
Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected death shocked the world as he kept his struggles with colon cancer private. The actor continued to appear in movies until his passing at 43 years old.
Boseman’s legacy of advocacy and leadership has outlived him, as the $5.4 million scholarship will impact the lives of numerous Howard students in the years to come.
“Unfortunately, it took Chadwick Boseman passing away, rest in peace, but, his name has provided us with so much notoriety, especially now that we have Dean Rashad as our dean, I just feel like everything is finally starting to get where we need it to be,” said sophomore Gabrielle Rice.
As a senior, Deirdre Dunkin believes the College of Fine Arts’ progress shows a larger commitment to its students.
“It shows them that our college is really serious about helping young Black artists become the artists that they’re meant to be without the worry of financial needs,” said Dunkin, one of this year’s scholarship recipients.
Sophomore musical theatre major, Rice, agreed. “It’s amazing that this is something students will get to experience and I’m so thankful that it’s happening.”
Copy edited by Jasper Smith