FLASHBACK: Movie Star Chadwick Boseman Told Grads That Your ‘Purpose’ Comes From God

It’s been less than nine months since the world lost Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman after he passed away from colon cancer. With all the negativity and anger coming out of Hollywood, it’s a good time to look back at a mega movie star whose whole life demonstrated positivity. 

As we enter the 2021 commencement address season, there will be many Hollywood celebrities asked to talk to college graduates. Back on May 12, 2018, Boseman addressed his alma mater Howard University, quoting the Bible and rallying new graduates to find their God-given purpose.

He urged the students to not give up during tough times, to continue pursuing their dreams. The actor even quoted Scripture as he did it:


Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Graduating class, hear me well on this day. This day, when you have reached the hilltop and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.

Infusing the entire speech from a framework of faith, he told the students how God can work through the difficult times in your life:

When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone that’s holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you. I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory then you will not regret it.

After the death of Boseman in August of 2020, the actor’s childhood pastor spoke glowingly of him: “He did a lot of positive things within the church and within the community. With him singing in the choir, with him working the youth group, he always was doing something, always helping out, always serving. That was his personality.”

Sounds like the students at Howard University got wise advice from Boseman, advice that all of us could benefit from.

For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.

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