Chadwick Boseman’s hometown will celebrate his life with community ceremony

Chadwick Boseman’s hometown of Anderson, South Carolina, will celebrate the star’s life Thursday night.

A large crowd is expected at 7 p.m. local time for an evening viewing of the star’s signature role in Marvel’s “Black Panther” at the Sports and Entertainment Complex, an outdoor amphitheater that can fit thousands even with social distancing.

The Rev. Samuel Neely, a retired pastor who has known Boseman’s family for years, has agreed to speak at the event, says Anderson mayor Terence Roberts.

Boseman, 43, died Friday at his Los Angeles area home of colon cancer, which he had privately battled for four years.

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The star’s immediate family won’t attend the tribute, his representative Nicki Fioravante confirmed in a statement noting that the event was not authorized or organized by his family.

“On behalf of the Boseman Family, we appreciate the community’s outpouring of love and admiration for Chadwick,” the statement said. “This event is a community celebration. It is not a funeral or memorial service.”

The actor starred as Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown in the biographical films “42,” “Marshall,” and “Get On Up” respectively. He also wrote, directed and produced works for stage and film and was an activist.

Boseman had also recently encouraged voting and promoted his work on the set of his most recent movie, the Spike Lee-directed “Da 5 Bloods.” His upcoming Netflix drama, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is expected to be released later this year.

In June, Boseman joined hundreds of Black artists and executives in co-signing an open letter urging Hollywood leaders to make “bold moves to affirm, defend and invest in Black lives.”

Two online petitions have gained nearly 130,000 electronic signatures combined in an effort to erect a Boseman statue in place of an existing Confederate monument in Anderson.

Contributing: Kim Willis, USA TODAY

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