BusinessDay

Denzel to Chadwick: Legacy Transcendent

Life as we know it is about the ongoing succession of generations. The generation nurtured by the one before it, settles down to the business of raising and equipping a new generation. And for vulnerable groups, this is a duty most sacred. Without the tending that’s so critical, the newborns will be unable to navigate properly and so will be easy prey for the many predators out there.

Of all those stories about Chadwick Boseman that came out after he died, the one I found most relatable was the one about Denzel lending a hand a youngster looking to improve his craft by going for a summer exchange programme at Oxford. The great man did it without fuss of any sort. He did as a Big Brother would for his kid brother and his kid sisters (Boseman wasn’t the only one he sponsored).

Whether Boseman turned out the star that he became or not, Denzel would have done the boundengenerational duty of helping a younger navigate the path that the older had trodden afore. Might we repeat, it’s a sacred obligation. To be there, to be present, to shine the light, to lend the hand. That’s how a generation bows out fulfilled, knowing it’d done its bit. And in this respect, the Black Race needs to do a bit more. The stories of where we’re coming are dissonant with our reality. And our kids are asking questions about our place in the world. Why is it generally at the bottom, wherever we find ourselves?

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Maybe one major reason is because we’ve not done enough of the lift: one generation pulling up the other and setting them on their way. Every new generation shouldn’t have to start at the bottom. And the help must not come from immediate family alone. The Black race is a family. We are up against too many odds. We need to ensure that the kids who succeed us are indeed successful. Not just as individuals. But as a people.
Look out for the one with the Black skin like you. Kill not your brother/sister because they’re black or brown like you. There are too many others who’ve assigned themselves that role of keeping us down and powerless. Be like Denzel. Look out for Chadwick. The many Chadwicks out there will make us proud if we show up strong for them. Show up strong for them.

Hear Denzel: “Black Panther, I shed a tear. And the 40 years I’ve been in this game came back to me. Man, look at those young boys, man. And I actually just thought it, and was like whew, Sydney (Poitier) to now? But it was like, man, I felt like the third leg in a relay race. Like, here, go! Now, I ran behind them, I’m still running, but I was like man, they gone! You never know who you’ll touch or where they’ll end up. I mean, I had no idea that it would work out this way and look where Chad is now. (This was before Chadwick’s death) I’m so glad to be, in a very small way, a part of that.”

Hereunder is Chadwick Boseman’s speech at the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2019. He was already looking quite frail but he was still full of gratitude to Denzel and evidently believed he was going to be around for longer. Unfortunately…..
“I know personally that your generosity extends past what you have given on the stage and screen. Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theatre students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting programme at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, he gracefully and privately agreed to contribute. As fate would have it, I am one of the students that he paid for.

“Imagine receiving a letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet. I have no doubt that there are similar stories at Boys & Girls Clubs, in theatres and churches across the country where I know you have also inspired and motivated others. An offering from a sage and a king is more than silver and gold. It is a seed of hope, a bud of faith. There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington. And not just because of me, but my whole cast; that generation stands on your shoulder. The daily battles won, the thousand territories gained, the many sacrifices you made for the culture on film sets through your career. The things you refused to compromise along the way laid the blueprints for us to follow, and so now, let he who has watered be watered. Let he who has given be given to.

“It is an honour to now know you, to learn from you, and join in this walk with you. May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly more in what’s in store than He ever has before. God bless you.”

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