It is the middle of May, and “Avengers: Infinity War” has been on cinemas for over two weeks now, but somehow the fan community of Marvel Studio’s MCU film franchise still manage to get enough enthusiasm going for the movie that came before, just months ago. When it premiered in February, “Black Panther” went on to join the list of all-time highest-grossing films, and the highest that was by an African-American director. Elements of the film has carried over into memes like the Wakandan salute. Star Chadwick Boseman has widely used the crossed-arm greeting, most recently at his alma mater.
CNN has it that Chadwick Boseman, who portrays the African King-slash-superhero T’Challa, the eponymous Black Panther, once again tapped into the role and the blockbuster film “Black Panther” when he returned to give a commencement speech at Howard University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing back in 2000. The 2018 event was a milestone itself for the “historically black” university in Washington DC, being its 150th Commencement Excercise. The now 40-year-old actor gave a stirring address to HU’s latest crop of graduates, before paraphrasing a line from “Black Panther” and giving them the Wakandan salute.
In addition to making a commencement speech, Boseman was also present at the Howard University graduation on May 12 to receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the university president, for achievements in his acting career. For his speech, the man behind “Black Panther”, based on a Marvel Comics character, touched on current events with his old school, namely a recent financial aid scam that was protested by the student body. Boseman enjoined the new graduates “to pursue life with passion and to fight for justice and equality”, noting that such issues were present during his time at university.
Howard, in Boseman’s description, was a magic place with both positive and negative extremes in dynamics. “You love the university enough to struggle with it,” he remarked while talking about his own private battles in the early days of his career. “Now you have to continue to do that … Everything that you fought for was not for yourself. It was for those who come after.” Boseman ultimately punctuated his words of wisdom by declaring “Howard Forever!” while crossing his arms just like his “Black Panther” character, to thunderous applause.
The Wakanda salute from “Black Panther” has been used as a new hip greeting and celebratory gesture by pro athletes. For instance, actress Lea Salonga, currently acting in the Broadway revival of “Once on this Island”, was charmed when, while backstage entertaining actress Angela Bassett (who play’s T’Challa’s mother Queen Ramonda), she saw her daughter Nicole greeting Bassett with the Wakandan salute, earning her a hug from the film star. Salonga had told Bassett that Nicole was a great fan.
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