JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before the tragic passing of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, the halls of Biscayne Elementary echoed the school’s theme for the year: Biscayne Forever.
The concept, modeled on the Wakanda Forever mantra from the fictional reality of “Black Panther,” is meant to empower students and features Wakanda signs across the building, decorations in every classroom and creative bulletin boards.
“In Wakanda, they had cutting edge technology, they had the brightest minds, they had royalty, and the example that King T’Challa and his entire court represented for our students -- I wanted that for my students at Biscayne Elementary,” Principal Sanna McBride said.
Beyond the entertainment of the “Black Panther” world, seeing a superhero who looks like them provides a lesson for Black children that can’t be taught, only experienced.
“I felt happy because I saw one of the first Black African superheroes. I feel like he was really successful and I could be like him one day,” fourth-grader Anderson Jean said.
“It’s not that often but I do see people superheroes that look like me,” classmate Jaishawn Bing said.
Sadly, the Biscayne Elementary theme turned into a reminder of what once was when star superhero Chadwick Boseman died Aug. 28 from Stage 4 colon cancer. He was 43.
Boseman’s immeasurable impact and sudden death are being felt across generations.
“Wow. He represents a true man of character. Dignity. He broke stereotypes. You know I am the mother of two African American males so to see his representation and what he stands for is something that I embodied in my boys as well,” McBride said. “And I just hope and pray that our youth, and even our young men and young women as well, can see everything that he represented and how intentional he was. How he did not take his life for granted. Every decision he made, every choice he made was intentional because he wanted to leave a legacy that was meaningful.”
McBride said Boseman’s death made showing the “Black Panther” movie more important than ever.
“To have it represented on the big screen and for my students, my Black and brown babies to see this, this gave them something to aspire too. It gave them hope. It gave them something to look forward to,” McBride said. “That representation is important because when they see that on the big screen and when they see that this is world-changing, they know that this is something they too can obtain.”
Students felt Boseman’s passing deeply.
“I felt really sad because like he was the person that gave me hope to be just like him, and I always wanted to be like him ever since I saw the movie,” Anderson said.
The school will commemorate Boseman’s legacy through a series of tributes throughout the week.
Wakanda (and Biscayne) Forever!