As celebrities, politicians, and inspired children continue to mourn his passing, many are also watching Chadwick Boseman's inspiring commencement speech to Howard University's Class of 2018. The late actor's address is making rounds across social media once again because of how powerfully it captures the beautiful legacy and impact he's left on his countless fans.
The 43-year-old Black Panther actor, who passed away on Aug. 28 at home with his wife and family by his side following a four year battle with colon cancer, delivered the commencement address at Howard University 18 years after he graduated from the university himself with a degree in fine arts, according to DCist. At the time, Boseman had just starred in Black Panther and had also been privately battling cancer for two years.
"Look down over what you conquer, and appreciate for what God has brought you through," Boseman told graduates, going on to recall his time at Howard University, where he once ran into the late boxer Muhammad Ali while walking on campus and engaged in student protests.
During his speech, Boseman praised students for engaging in a nine-day protest where students occupied the university's administration building with a list of demands, including revised policies on sexual assault, as NPR reported. "Everything you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who come after you," he told graduates. "The fact that you have struggled with this university that you loved is a sign that you can use your education to improve the world that you are entering."
Boseman went on to tell graduates that, after leaving Howard, he experienced rejection, but used it as inspiration. The actor went on to star iconic roles such as James Brown in Get On Up, Jackie Robinson in 42, and the titular role in Black Panther.
"Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it," Bosemen told students. "Sometimes you need to feel the pain and the sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you."
Fortunately, you can watch Boseman's entire Howard University commencement speech on YouTube and listen to his inspiring words again and again. (His speech begins around the 7 minute mark of the video). You can also find a full transcript of Boseman's speech here.
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick released a statement on Saturday, saying that Boseman desired to see Howard students achieve greatness. "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," Fredrick said. "He prioritized his wife, his family, his friends, his craft, and loving others. The characters he portrayed will be celebrated but his greatest gift to us was himself."
Following the news of Boseman's passing, fans have since rediscovered his speech, finding solace in his words. "His speech means more to me knowing he was fighting cancer during this time," one fan commented on YouTube. "Rest easy Chadwick!" Another wrote, "Little does he know he inspired a whole generation for years to come. Appreciate his contribution to not only to humanity but to the culture as well. What a humble human being. Rest easy king." One more shared, "One of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. We just lost a King but he left us with so much."
The actor's commencement speech ended on an inspiring note: "I don't know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way — the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory more glory — then you will not regret it."