Sometimes you need to get knocked down
before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, a different path opened up for me: the path to my destiny.
~ Chadwick Boseman
Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this month’s newsletter, news broke: Chadwick Boseman, dead at 43. Oh no! But, didn’t he ramble?! Thanks to him, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and King T’Challa live on in his unique way. Wakanda Forever.
Sincere condolences to his family, friends, fans, and the children who so loved him. He was our superhero—even more so off-screen than on, as we now know. Through some of his greatest film achievements—including the filming of Black Panther—he was quietly and courageously fighting cancer. He was also bringing joy, inspiration, gifts and his infectious smile to children battling cancer at St. Jude’s.
To learn more about St. Jude’s—one of the world’s leading pediatric cancer centers—and make a donation in tribute, click here.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the effect his death is having on some children. What can we possibly tell them to heal the hurt and loss they feel? We tell them, I think, what he would have wanted them to know. They, too, have gifts to share with the world. By treasuring his lessons in kindness, caring, courage, perseverance, and grace, they, too, can become superheroes and supersheroes in their own way.
Here he is, accepting an honorary doctorate degree from Howard University, his alma mater, and delivering the commencement address.
In 1968, disproportionate numbers of Blacks were drafted to fight for American interests in Vietnam while their draft-deferred peers fought against what they saw as the same “demons” on campus. The year that began with the Orangeburg massacre of students protesting a segregated bowling alley, would soon erupt in the murder of Dr. King. On campus, the freedom fight found voice in demands for academic reform and courses in Black Studies.
Students of historically-Black Howard University occupied its administration building and made their case. An open letter to President James Nabrit argued: “Black youth of today have learned that to be ‘just like a White man’ is to acquire a synthetic identity and to hate one’s true self.... The Black leader of today must address himself to a new breed of youth and the Black university of today must produce a new breed of leaders—leaders who take pride in their true identity and who will instill similar pride in others....”
Among their demands: that Howard be made a center for African American thought; that “economic, government, literature, and social science departments [emphasize] how these disciplines may be used to effect the liberation of Black people”; and, that links to the neighboring Black community be formed. Six weeks into Orangeburg and the deepening war, they braced for the worst and gave it their best.
Day: Wednesday, March 20, 1968
Place: Washington, DC
Inspirational Theme: Respect for Youth
The Janus Adams Show and podcast launches its fifth season on public radio with a fabulous roster of all-new episodes:
September 12: Congressman Ritchie Torres
It’s official! New York City's current Councilman—the youngest person ever elected to the post—has been certified the city’s newest Congressman. He returns to the show to talk about his historic pre-election day victory and the agenda Bronxites are sending him to Congress to achieve.
September 19: Reckoning and Representation: Dutchess County
In the wake of ongoing race-based incidents of official misconduct and a series of police killings of unarmed African Americans nationwide, Dutchess County, New York's highest elected officials host a virtual “listening town hall” and get an earful.
September 26: Erin Hatton, “Coerced”
What do prison laborers, graduate students, welfare workers, and college athletes have in common? They are all part of a growing workforce of coerced laborers. As the nation reels from COVID-19, as businesses attempt to reopen, as we head to the polls, what value do we truly place on workers and work?
ON THE WEB
Three authors, three entrepreneurs, three moms -- two of whom have children with serious health challenge -- make for a rollicking no-holds-barred conversation this week. MaryAnne Howland -- author of “WARRIOR RISING: How Four Men Helped a Boy on His Journey to Manhood” visits "Mondays LIVE" for a chat with my co-host Elle Cole and me.
What does "different" really mean? Heads up. The demands American society places on our kids will surprise even the most seasoned parents.
Be safe. Be well.
Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, historian, keynote speaker, Dr. Janus Adams is publisher of BackPaxKids.com and host of public radio’s
“The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.