Photo: Dan Hallman, INVL / Associated Press
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When news of “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death sent shock waves throughout the nation, residents of Boseman’s hometown Anderson, South Carolina came together and decided to commemorate him in a meaningful and lasting way.
Hometown organizers launched a petition on Change.org to replace a Confederate monument in downtown Anderson with a memorial to Boseman. The petition had garnered more than 11,600 signatures as of Monday afternoon, nearing its goal of 15,000.
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“Mr. Boseman spent his life uplifting the stories of Black Americans both real and fictional,” petition organizer DeAndre Weaver wrote. “Throughout his career, he has brought to life such historical figures as James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall.”
Weaver emphasized how pivotal Boseman’s influence has been to emerging Black American actors and artists.
“He opened many doors for many young black people with his leading roles in movies such as Black Panther or Marshall,” Weaver added.
According to a South Carolina state website, the current statue was dedicated to the Confederate veterans of Anderson County and was built in 1902 by the citizens of Anderson County.
The petition requests that the statue be moved in order to pay tribute to Boseman’s life and legacy.
“Mr Boseman is a hero to this nation but more importantly a hero to the town of Anderson. His legacy was one of excellence and equality,” Weaver wrote. “It is only natural that his hometown honors what he did. There is no need for political controversy in this decision.”
Several supporters weighed in on the petition to build a memorial to Boseman.
“The statue in downtown Anderson is a hateful disgrace to our loving community. Chadwick Boseman would be a perfect replacement monument because he represents Anderson’s core values,” Alexandria Bagwell wrote.
“He is the epitome of resilience and made a significant change in entertainment,” Heather Haase wrote.
Boseman died Friday at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. In “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler’s emotional tribute to Boseman in the Hollywood Reporter, he described the “beautiful life” that the actor led.
“Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a great man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering,” Coogler wrote. “He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days.”