Chadwick Boseman, the man behind the Black Panther mask, gave a stirring graduation speech at Howard University this weekend, ending his words of wisdom with the iconic “Wakanda Forever” salute.
“Howard Forever,” the actor said, crossing his fists before a cheering crowd at his alma mater. Boseman, 40, graduated in 2000 from the historically black university in Washington, D.C.
During his speech Saturday, he urged students to pursue life with passion and to fight for justice and equality. This year, students at the university protested a financial aid scandal and campaigned for more affordable tuition and campus housing.
Boseman told students that he, too, fought what he thought were problems at the university when he attended. He called Howard a “magical place … where the dynamics of positive and negative seem to exist in extremes.”
“You love the university enough to struggle with it,” he said. “Now you have to continue to do that … Everything that you fought for was not for yourself. It was for those who come after.”
The actor told the crowd about his early days acting on soap operas, saying he was fired from one unnamed production after he questioned what he felt was its stereotypical portrayal of black characters.
Such struggles, he told graduates, are not obstacles but rather keys to meaningful success.
“The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose,” said the actor, whose movie “Black Panther” has earned more than $1.3 billion worldwide. “Press on with pride and press on with purpose.”