Los Angeles: The 2020 edition of the MTV Video Music Awards paid tributes to “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away after a four year-long secret battle with colon cancer.
Boseman, who catapulted to international stardom and acclaim as T’Challa of fictitious African country Wakanda aka superhero Black Panther in the MCU films such as “Captain America: Civil War”, “Black Panther”, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”, died at his residence here on Friday in the presence of his wife and family. He was 43.
The actor, also known for essaying historical black icons like baseball star Jackie Robinson in “42”, singer-songwriter James Brown in “Get on Up” and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall”, received a one-minute video tribute at the awards ceremony Sunday night.
Before the clip was played, host Keke Palmer announced that the show would be dedicated to Boseman, “a true hero”.
“Before we get into the music tonight, we need to take the time to talk about the devastating loss of Chadwick Boseman, an actor whose talent and passion were a true inspiration to all the fans he touched, and everyone he encountered. We dedicate this show to a man whose spirit touched so many… His impact lives forever,” Palmer said.
A title card reading, “The world needs more superheroes” appeared at the beginning of the segment, which was followed by a video of Boseman accepting the best hero award at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards.
As someone who left an indelible mark not only on pop culture through a landmark film like “Black Panther”, which celebrated black identity like never before, but also through his charity and way of life, Boseman had dedicated that award to a real-life hero named James Shaw Jr.
“Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing. But, it’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes that we have in real life. So, I just wanna acknowledge somebody that’s here today, James Shaw Jr.
“If you don’t know James Shaw Jr, he fought off a gunman in Antioch, Tennessee, at a Waffle House, saved lives. So, this is gonna live at your house, God bless you,” the actor says in the old video.
The tribute concludes with a simple message: “Rest in Power”.
Actors Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira, Boseman’s “Black Panther” co-stars, also broke their silence over his death.
“This hurts. Really hurts,” simply tweeted a grieving Wright, who played Shuri, the tech genius sister to Boseman’s T’Challa.
Gurira shared a lengthy post on Instagram, saying she was “reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother”.
“How do you honor a king? Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy,” the actor, who played Okoye, the personal bodyguard to Boseman’s Black Panther/ T’Challa.
“My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace.”
Calling Boseman “a true class act”, Gurira said the late actor was perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for black representation.
“He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life.
“He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all,” she added.
Gurira said she is unable to wrap her mind around Boseman’s loss.
“A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him.
“I am so thankful to have taken the ‘Black Panther’ journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend. Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani (Zulu phrase meaning ‘Sleep in peace, O king’),” she said.
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler also released an emotional statement, in which he remembered Boseman as a man of faith and dignity, and someone who lived a beautiful life while making great art.
“Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness… Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art.
“Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an indelible mark he’s left for us,” Coogler said, adding hasn’t grieved “a loss this acute before”.
Co-stars Angela Bassett and Sterling K Brown also took to social media to remember him.
ABC News will also air a special titled “Chadwick Boseman – A Tribute for a King”, following a commercial-free presentation of “Black Panther”.