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Artist draws personal experience, inspiration for Boseman mural

Posted at 8:27 PM, Sep 04, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — His work on and off-screen inspired people all around the world and now the legacy of Chadwick Boseman lives through this mural on 155 Lafayette Street in Nashville.

Charles Key Jr. knew who he wanted to paint on this wall, but choosing an image was a bit more challenging. Online you’ll find thousands of pictures with Boseman playing various roles through his short-lived career. However, no role as popular as his portrayal of Marvel's Black Panther.

Charles admits he didn’t watch the movies like his kids, but there was something about the grace and dignity Boseman brought to the role that he couldn’t ignore.

He finally landed on an image that seemed to capture that. With his head bowed and his hands to his face, something about this picture of Boseman tells others there’s more to the man than you know.

“In the movie, this is the king. So we never know what people are going through when they have to make decisions,” Key Jr. said.

Boseman died Aug. 28 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

The decision to keep quiet about his illness was a deeply personal one that friends say was just part of who he was. They say Boseman did not want his diagnosis to affect others, especially the actors who co-starred alongside him.

Charles says we can all learn from the example Boseman set as he faced a challenge no one else could see.

“If Chadwick can inspire millions of people through his mortality than I can definitely pull some strength from him to be here today to talk to you guys about this situation,” Key Jr. said.

That's when Charles explained how less than 24 hours earlier, his father had passed away from a 10-year battle with prostate cancer. It began to make sense why at first Charles was hesitant about being available for an interview.

He went on to say that cancer runs in his family, with some of his cousins having survived breast cancer.

“Behind this picture is awareness and a spotlight on a disease that is killing us at a young age,” Key Jr. said.

Charles Key Sr. was 73 when he died, but Charles says his father lived a long and eventful life. Having been diagnosed early enough, his father was able to manage for years with the proper treatment.

It’s for that reason he wants to make cancer an issue that can be talked about and not simply ignored until it’s too late. With the passing of Boseman, Charles says it’s up to Black men to begin getting screened much sooner.