In the days since the passing of “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman on August 28, children across the world have paid homage to him using their toys.
On August 30, Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Incredible Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shared photos of two children crossing their arms across their chest — a reference to the “Wakanda Forever” salute — while several Marvel action figures are placed in a circle around a Black Panther figurine.
“This is his power and impact on the next generation. #ChadwickForever,” Ruffalo tweeted.
Soon, other Twitter users shared tributes that their children had made. One of those users was Demetria Dawson, an Atlanta mother who recalled her daughter Jasmine breaking the news of Boseman’s death to Dawson’s son Christopher.
“We told him that the actor Chadwick had passed away,” she told In The Know. “His face was in shock, and he said, ‘Not Black Panther, not the king.'”
Two days after the news broke, Christopher reportedly gathered his toys and told his family that they needed to do a ceremony. A video of the makeshift memorial service shows several of Christopher’s toys circled around his Black Panther action figure, which is covered with a piece of toilet paper. Dawson explained that her son wanted to recreate an iconic scene in the film in which Boseman’s character is buried in snow and is later brought back to life.
“[Christopher] said we needed to have the music, so [he] added Childish Gambino’s song ‘This Is America’ and ‘All the Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar,” she said.
Tracie Cobbs, a mother in Los Angeles, similarly shared a photo of her son with his arms crossed across his chest and several of his Marvel action figures with their hands raised.
“My son did the same thing!!!” Cobbs wrote in response to Ruffalo’s tweet. “This is beyond hard to take in!!!”
In an interview with NBC News, Reena Patel, a licensed educational psychologist and guidance counselor, said that Boseman’s impact on children went beyond his role as the Black Panther.
“Yes, this is a loss of a character larger than life and a celebrity most never met, but to our children this is a loss of someone who showed us anything is possible and someone who may have looked like them,” she said, adding that her 6-year-old changed into Black Panther pajamas as a way to cope with Boseman’s passing.
Boseman died of colon cancer at the age of 43. In addition to bringing Black Panther to life, he was best known for his roles as Jackie Robinson in “42,” Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” and Norman Earl Holloway in “Da 5 Bloods.”
If you’re interested in reading more stories like this, consider this story on Queen Latifah’s push for more Black representation in Hollywood.
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