“Black Panther” Star Gives Howard University Graduation Speech
Chadwick Boseman, the star of the runaway hit film “Black Panther”, returned to his alma mater on Saturday to deliver the keynote address at Howard University’s commencement ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The class of 2000 alumni of the historically-black college invoked the film’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute from the stage as students cheered.
He encouraged the 2018 graduating class to fight systems of discrimination including the ones he faced himself as a once-struggling actor when he wondered if he had been ‘blacklisted’ for pushing against black stereotypes in a role he was being asked to play early in his career.
“As conflicted as I was before I lost the job, as adamant as I was about the need to speak truth to power, I found myself even more conflicted afterwards. I stand here today knowing that my Howard University education prepared me to play Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall and T’Challa,” Boseman said in reference to the iconic African American figures he played in previous films as well as his latest role in “Black Panther”.
Boseman also applauded students for occupying their campus earlier this year in protest against what they said were unfair campus policies and substandard facilities.
“Your protests are also promising because many of you will leave Howard and systems and institutions that have a history of discrimination and marginalization,” he said.
During the commencement ceremony, the university conferred upon the actor its highest honour, an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.
“[Boseman] has played some of the most iconic African Americans that have transformed history,” Howard University said in a statement. “His recent role in the blockbuster film Black Panther reminds us of the excellence found in the African diaspora,” it said.
Black Panther, the first black standalone Marvel superhero movie, has won rave reviews with critics praising both its adventure and its portrayal of a majestic Africa.
The Disney movie tells the story of T’Challa, the Black Panther, the new king of the futuristic, wealth-laden African nation Wakanda, who is challenged by factions within his own country.
In less than three weeks after its release, the film became the 47th highest grosser worldwide and the 10th highest domestic grosser of all time.