ANDERSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The passing of actor Chadwick Boseman rocked Hollywood Friday night. Celebrities, actors, and more expressed shock and condolences after the 43-year-old passed away from a four-year-long battle with colon cancer. The actor's battle with the disease had not been made public, and his own family used his Twitter account to confirm the battle went on during filming for a handful of projects.
The shockwave of Boseman's passing extends beyond a dedicated fanbase and Hollywood. Outside of the silver screen, an Upstate community feels this loss.
FROM THE ELECTRIC CITY TO THE SILVER SCREEN
Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina. He played basketball for T.L. Hanna High School and graduated from there in 1995. He then went on to attend Howard University, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing there before moving on to the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. However, he never forgot his roots and was still tied to the Anderson community.
Along the way, Boseman grew in cinema, landing several roles on television, and making his breakthrough portraying barrier-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson in "42" in 2013 and Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in "Thurgood" in 2017. We profiled Boseman's rise to Hollywood as a household name in 2013 as Robinson and in 2014 ahead of the release of "Get On Up", where he portrayed legendary singer James Brown.
In 2018, we again saw Boseman's impact on his hometown. Shale Remien reached out to a local pastor who reacted to Boseman taking on the character of T'Challa in Marvel's "Black Panther" that year.
Boseman made history as part of a cast and crew that brought Marvel Studios' first Oscars win with "Black Panther" as Best Picture in 2019. The film also took home Best Original Sore, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.
Boseman, of course, wasn't done; in 2019, we profiled him when his action thriller "21 Bridges" premiered, in which he also produced.
Of course, with Boseman's passing came a shocking revelation: during all of his recent films from 2016 onward, he was battling colon cancer. The actor had never revealed this to the public, which took the world by surprise when his family announced his passing.
THE CAROLINAS REACT
Shortly after his passing, Anderson District 5 released a statement:
Anderson Five and TL Hanna are shocked and saddened by the news, and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. People know of his impact on the big screen, but his legacy will also live on in those who he touched in the Anderson community.
Boseman passed at his home in Los Angeles, with his wife and family at his side.
South Carolina senator Tim Scott also expressed his condolences on Twitter.
Fellow actor Mark Ruffalo, who worked with Boseman in the two most recent "Avengers" movies from Marvel, offered his own grief.
All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman. What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 29, 2020
Beyond cinema, Buffalo Bills defensive end and Clemson alum Shaq Lawson shared Boseman's passing shocked him as well. The Carolina Panthers also tweeted a consoling message Friday night.
This hit home, South Carolina legend. R.I.P 🙏🏿 https://t.co/E5MmnU5raZ— Shaq Lawson (@Shaq_Lawson90) August 29, 2020
South Carolina lost one of it’s brightest stars. You made us proud. https://t.co/xyRVbNG6ut— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 29, 2020
The day after Boseman's passing, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced that the two flags atop the statehouse in Columbia would be lowered to half-staff on Sunday, August 30, from sunrise to sunset. Those flags will be presented to Boseman's family at an appropriate time.
To honor the life, contributions and memory of a truly extraordinary son of South Carolina @chadwickboseman - I have ordered the flags atop the Statehouse to be lowered to half-staff tomorrow, Sunday August 30, 2020, from sunrise to sunset. https://t.co/dMEHBIbBe5— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) August 29, 2020
On Sunday, our cameras captured those flags flying at half-staff.
Memorials for the beloved actor quickly trended on social media, but these weren't just public displays; the most eye-catching ones were memorials made by kids, using action figures to pay homage. Sade Berry of Greenville shared a photo of her son, Carter, hosting one such memorial while displaying the "Wakanda Forever" salute. His act of honor quickly gained traction and went viral on social media.
Soon after, the trend would spread, and kids across the Carolinas caught on, their parents capturing their tributes to a beloved actor who played a wise king, powerful warrior, and complex leader.
We sat down with one of Boseman's former educators: Sheila Hilton, a former principal at TL Hanna High School. She says the roles Boseman chose reflected on his character.
"When you look at the parts he chose to take on, they were African American heroes, and I think children today need to see that and when you look at Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshal and Black Panther, they were all heroes, and I think the end of his life what a more appreciate way than to honor him and say he's one too," Hilton said. "After I settled down a little bit I said is that not just like him? He would be humble enough not to draw attention to himself during an illness. He kept right on doing what he was doing while he could during his surgeries and chemotherapy‘s he was still working."
Hilton notes Boseman also personally paid for kids in Anderson to go see "Black Panther" when the film released in 2018, giving back to his community in a major way.
"He was just one of those you always knew he was going to be big one day. You just didn’t know what it would be," she said.
In a news release Saturday, South Carolina state senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) announced he would introduce a resolution to honor Boseman in the state Senate Wednesday when senators return for session.
“Chadwick Boseman was more than just an actor, he was someone who touched lives all over the world,” said Jackson. “He inspired young people, brought important cultural moments to life on the screen, and used his art for activism. He never forgot his roots here in South Carolina. Chadwick Boseman made our state incredibly proud.”
Boseman's passing has also inspired a petition to remove a Confederate statue in Anderson and replace it with a statue of Boseman. According to organizer DeAndre Weaver, Boseman rented out a theater in Anderson to show "Black Panther" to kids for free, and the actor should be memorialized with a statue to replace the Confederate one downtown.
The smallest memorial to Boseman began Saturday night at the very high school the actor graduate from more than two decades ago. The first small gifts were a bouquet of flowers, a Black Panther mask, and a short note:
To the family of Chadwick Boseman,
We will miss him.
A day after that memorial began, we learned from current TL Hanna principal Walter Mayfield school leaders are in talks to create a scholarship in honor of Boseman.
Memorial services have not yet been announced.