Chadwick Boseman’s South Carolina hometown community mourns the man they knew as Chad

Chadwick Boseman, an Anderson County, South Carolina, native, former T.L. Hanna High School student and internationally known movie star, died on Friday.

Here are some of the ways his hometown community is remembering the legacy Boseman gave us.

Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts

“He really made an impact on not only the entertainment field but worldwide for people of color who look up to him and emulate what he did,” said Roberts, the city’s first Black mayor, who inspired others to follow his footsteps.

“His parents are very humble and private people, it does not surprise me that he decided to be very private about his illness and through the stages of death,” Roberts said. “It speaks to his character. His values were instilled by them.”

Anderson City Council member Tony Stewart

Boseman was, and will be, a role model for people in Anderson, said Stewart, an Anderson City Council member who has represented a majority Black district for two decades.

“I never had chance to meet him but like so many of us, I met him on the big screen,” Stewart said. And like so many Anderson residents, he also met Boseman through stories.

“Everywhere i went, people were talking about Chad Boseman,” Stewart said. “He really changed the face and showed what Black culture is all about. I wish I would have had the chance to get to know him personally, but sometimes you feel you don’t have to know a person personally to know what he meant for a community, for a society.”

“Because of everything that is going on with Black Lives Matter and equality and racial injustices across America, this is another stab in the heart for the African American community,” Stewart said.

Former basketball coach Marion Tarrant, speaking to the Independent Mail in 2017:

“On road trips, he’d be in back of the van, with a light on, reading books so thick they were hard to carry, while everybody else was laughing and have teenage fun,” remembers Tarrant, who coached the team.

“He already had great people skills, and because of that I thought he would go to college and become a very good teacher, maybe, and administrator or a superintendent,” Tarrant recalls. “I always saw him in education, in some field, because he loved to read.”

Tarrant had personal connections to Boseman as well as many of Anderson’s other famous sons: former NBA player Larry Nance, former Major League Baseball player Jim Rice, and James “Radio” Kennedy, a lifelong Anderson resident whose loyalty to Hanna High School was the subject of a powerful 2003 movie.

Independent Mail photographer Ken Ruinard

Ruinard said he remembers playing pickup basketball on Saturdays in the 1990s with Boseman, who showed humor, charisma and leadership.

“Some guys like Chadwick had magnetic personality and you could see people were drawn to him,” Ruinard said.”Who would have known then he was going to be such a big time actor,? We knew he could play basketball and he was a good student, too,” Ruinard said.

“He may not have known exactly what he was going to do back then, but life was leading him and he was surrounded by lots of great people, too. His dreams led him in that direction. It’s neat that the world loved him so much and he became such a role model for the world. It’s part of his legend, he made a big difference.”

Gov. Henry McMaster

McMaster ordered the flags atop the Statehouse lowered to half-staff on Sunday to honor the life, contributions and memory of Boseman, whom he called “a truly extraordinary son of South Carolina.”

The flags will be presented to the family at the appropriate time, McMaster said in a tweet.

Wayne Jones, Boseman’s high school basketball coach

“Chad was one of two freshmen I decided to keep on the varsity team, which was unusual,” said Jones, head basketball coach at Hanna from 1979-2005, for a 2017 Independent Mail story.

Boseman stayed on the team all four years, averaging a few points a game as a guard. “He was very personable, a very well-mannered guy. He was one of those hard workers.”

Jones remembers the first time he saw Boseman on television. “It was a little cameo thing and I told my wife, ‘That’s Chad Boseman.’ I knew he was [in Hollywood] but I didn’t know what he was doing. It was a street scene in ‘Law and Order.’ ”

Jones said students can learn a lot from Boseman.

“If you’ve got a dream, follow it. A little bit here leads to a little bit somewhere else. Here’s a guy from little old Anderson,” who has made it big in Hollywood, he said.

“Chad’s drive and determination and great family support — those are the things that have driven him to success.”

The Rev. Samuel Neely, his family’s pastor

Neely, of Mauldin, South Carolina, pastored Welfare Baptist Church in Belton for 30 years. Boseman was raised in the church and his parents still attend.

“Chad was quite ambitious,” Neely said in a 2017 Independent Mail story. “He always wanted to one day be in movies or on TV. In high school, he wrote a play and we had an opportunity to present it at the church. It was about youth and violence and how young people need to set goals in life.”

Neely is now retired from preaching.

When Boseman returned to the church as a movie star several years ago, you’d never know it. “He was just a regular homeboy,” Neely said.

Sheila Hilton, retired T.L. Hanna principal

In high school, Boseman took part in debate team and the school’s theater program, said Hilton, when she spoke to the Independent Mail in 2017.

“He was one of those students who took full advantage of everything offered to him,” she said.. “You could see him everywhere. He played basketball, he was very active in speech and debate. I think that is where he sort of got started in standing up and speaking and front of people. It was a pretty academic thing.”

Greenville pastor John Gray

Greenville pastor John Gray shared an Instagram photo of the two of them together. Gray’s wife, Aventer Gray, said in her own Instagram post that her son was a great admirer of Boseman’s work.

“Life is short… live it well, healthy, to the fullest and for God! By all means fight for your health. Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual,” Gray posted.

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