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College of Fine Arts HUSA Senators Announce ‘Chadwick Boseman Day’ During ‘Howard Forever’ Tribute Event

Pictured Left to Right: Cecily Davis, Julius Shanks, Domenique Ross, Destiny Jennings, Zora Allison, Calyn Coleman, Joshua John-Louis, Mariah Belle Williams, Denise Saunders Thompson, Nyakya Brown, Nikkole Salter, Nsangou Njikam, Napiera Groves, Jammie Patton, and Greg Alvarez Reid. Photo by Natalie Betts. 

With the new release of the Black Panther sequel, “Wakanda Forever,” a “Howard Forever” event was held as a tribute to honor the legacy of the late humanitarian, award winning actor, producer, and Howard alumnus ‘00 Chadwick Boseman. 

Students gathered together on Nov. 10 at around 4 p.m. in front of Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall to watch Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts students and other organizations such as the Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. celebrate Boseman’s life by giving performances on stage. 

The event was hosted by junior honors journalism major, Armani Washington and sponsored by the Howard University Student Association (HUSA), HUSA Senate, Howard Undergraduate Student Assembly (UGSA), and Fine Arts Council (FAC).

The performances included a segment from African drummers, students performing a theatrical dance of the new song “Lift Me Up” by Rihanna from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and a fashion showcase that displayed pieces inspired by “Black Panther” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” two films in which Boseman starred. 

There was also a musical performance by Afro Blue, Howard University’s premier vocal jazz ensemble, singing “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. Along with the Howard University Gospel Choir performing the hymnal “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ‘round.” 

Towards the end of the event, it was announced that the fine arts senators, sophomore Joshua John-Louis and junior Mariah Belle Williams passed “The Chadwick Aaron Boseman Legacy Through the Arts” Proclamation that would honor the legacy through a community mural and other events of Boseman on the day of his passing on, Aug. 28, 2020. 

Leadership within HUSA Senate is not able to provide specific details of the events due to the continuation of finalizing events, according to John-Louis.

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Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Dean, Phylicia Rashad, and the college’s Associate Dean of Administration, Denise Saunders Thompson, were both Boseman’s former professors when he was a student, and they expressed gratitude and amazement for the students that came out to support the legacy of Boseman. 

“I was fortunate enough to be one of his teachers…, and to see him and know him as a student, to experience him as a graduate, to witness him as an actor and to know him as a human being. So thank you very much for this acknowledgement of his greatness and what his legacy means to all of you, I know it means a lot to me,” Rashad said on stage.

“He was someone special. He knew who he was, he was Black, he was young, [and] he was proud. He knew there was a mission before him. He knew that this was the right time, the right place at Howard University.” Dean Saunders Thompson said.

John-Louis and Williams felt that it was important that one of the first things they did after entering office last spring as HUSA senators was to honor Boseman. 

“He was so connected to his roots, to our African heritage, to our ancestors. He was so connected and understanding of who he was… he was a person that…stood in who he was, and was unapologetic about it. Chadwick Boseman to me really represents how to live your life as an ‘enlightened servant,’” John-Louis expressed. 

After the announcement of the proclamation, words were shared with the student body from Boseman’s close friend and Howard Alumna ‘01 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Nyakya Brown. 

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“It has been an honor to be connected to him in this lifetime, but to see what his legacy is and will always be, and to know that here at Howard University – where we met, but where his legacy will continue to live on, gives us nothing but a great sense of pride,” Brown said. 

According to John-Louis, there is great significance of why white should be worn on Aug. 28. 

“Originally I had put all black because of course ‘mourning, sadness’ but…my co-senator [Mariah] and my dean were like ‘No we want to do all white’…It’s a celebration of his legacy that he left behind, and it’s a celebration of how we as students of the college of fine arts live and breathe in that everyday,” he said. 

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

Pictured is Dean Phylicia Rashad of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts giving a speech on the stage during the beginning of the event. Photo Courtesy of Kamille Lacy.

 In the middle of the event a monologue from Shakespeare’s MacBeth was also performed by senior acting major Ricky Devon Hall. 

Hall attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England’s, four week training summer program that many Howard alumni have attended, including Boseman in 1998. Hall was asked to perform a piece that he learned from this program in honor of Boseman’s attendance. 

“Chadwick’s whole story was that he wanted to go to the program but he couldn’t afford it and none of his classmates could. At the time Dean Rashad was actually his teacher, she called Denzel Washington, and they both sponsored this class to go – the cohort that was accepted to go that year,” Hall said. “Honestly, pretty similarly to my experience, I was able to go because of the support of the HU community and because of the support of my tribe at home.”

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Pictured is Ricky Devon Hall performing his monologue. Photo Courtesy of Kamille Lacy.

Hall was not only honored to perform, but the event also reinforced the admiration he already held for Boseman. 

“I think what’s so beautiful about his spirit for me is that he is so human, like we’ve never formally met Chadwick – most of us in the college – but we have. We’ve met him because we’ve seen him through his work. We’ve got to meet him – his heart through his interviews. Anything that he does is so deeply human and I think that’s something that we are all kind of like on this path to wanting to discover within ourselves,” Hall said. 

The event ended with a step and stroll performance by Howard University’s Beta Chapter Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. There was also a give away of  250 shirts that said “Howard Forever” in the front designed by 46th Mr. Howard University, senior Rashan Schoffner. 

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