The recently titled Dr. Chadwick Boseman received an honorary degree from his alma mater Howard University before giving a memorable 2018 commencement speech to the university’s 150th graduating class. 

Boseman opened his speech with an anecdote about one of his first experiences in the acting world when he played on a soap opera. 

“The role wasn’t necessarily stereotypical,” Boseman said. “But I found myself conflicted.”

Boseman described his earliest role as a young man who felt a pull toward gang violence with a heroin-addicted mother and a father who abandoned him when the character was young. 

“The role seemed to be wrapped up in assumptions of us as black folk,” Boseman said. “The writing failed to search for specificity. Plus, there was barely a glimpse of positivity or talent in the character. Barely a glimpse of hope. I would have to make something out of nothing. Howard had instilled in me a certain amount of pride, and, for my taste, this role didn’t live up to those standards.”

After shooting his first episode, the executives told Boseman they were thrilled with his performance, and if he needed anything, he only had to let them know. Taking this as an opening, Boseman questioned where the character's father was, why his character’s mother was seen as an unfit parent and why he grew up in foster care. The executive began to look at his resume while Boseman urged that the character needed some saving grace, skill or redeemable trait. 

The executive asked him, “So you went to Howard University?” Boseman proudly said yes. “Thank you for your concerns. We’ll be watching you,” the executive said. 

Boseman was let go the next day. 

Today, having stood against the stereotyping of black characters in film, Boseman has played Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall and T'Challa in Black Panther.

Throughout his speech, Boseman blessed students with major life keys that will stay with them for years to come. Blavity has collected a few for those who were not able to be there in person. 

1. “Your grades don’t give a real indication of what your greatness might be.”

2. “When completing a long climb, one first experiences dizziness, disorientation and shortness of breath due to the high altitude, but once you become accustomed to the climb your mind opens up to the tranquility of the triumph.”

3. “Right now I urge you to invest in the importance of this moment and cherish it… Savor the taste of your triumph today. Don’t just swallow the moment whole without digesting what has actually happened here.”

4. “Look down over what you’ve conquered and appreciate what God has brought you through.”

5. “When you invest in a seed, watching it grow without you, that is a bitter pill to swallow.”

6. “Forget their stories, I can tell my own stories.”

7. “What do you do when the principles and standards instilled in you here at Howard closed the doors in front of you? Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you figure out what your fight is and how to fight it.”

8. “Sometimes you need to feel the pang and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”

9. "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.”

10. “Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose."

11. “Press on with pride and press on with purpose."