Howard University is mourning the death of beloved actor and alumnus Chadwick Boseman, who embodied Black icons Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall before playing his largest role yet — T’Challa in the groundbreaking film "Black Panther."
"Boseman was a man of grace and humility. A deep thinker who had a deep passion for writing and uplifting his people," Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a letter to the university community.
Howard grad and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris also spoke of Boseman's humility on Twitter.
The 2000 graduate died of cancer Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 43.
Fans were stunned to learn he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago.
"We now know he was in a fight for his life yet continued creating magic for all of us without missing a beat. He lived a full life by the magnitude of his example," Frederick said.
Fresh off of the success of "Black Panther," Boseman returned to Howard in 2018 to deliver a commencement speech.
"Boseman spoke fondly of his days at Howard, calling it 'a magical place' and saying, 'when you have reached the Hilltop and you are deciding on next steps, you would rather find purpose than a career. Purpose is an essential element of you that crosses disciplines,'" Frederick said. "It was Boseman’s desire to see the students of Howard achieve greatness."
J. Kyle Manzay was roommates with Boseman when they were freshman at Howard.
"We kind of had an instant bond. We lived in Drew Hall … and we were on the top floor. We called it the penthouse," Manzay said.
He said he had recently heard his college friend was sick.
"I didn't really think a lot of it because, you know, if you know Chad, it's like he's not that far from Black Panther or superhero. So, in my mind, he would always pull through," he said.
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Manzay said he was shocked when he heard the news of Boseman's death.
"He lived as a warrior. He fought as a warrior. He died as a warrior. But I know he is my brother in Christ so I'll see him on the other side," he said.
"Boseman reminds us that the quality of life is not measured in time, but rather it is measured in how well we live it and what we prioritized. He prioritized his wife, his family, his friends, his craft, and loving others," Frederick said. "The characters he portrayed will be celebrated but his greatest gift to us was himself."