Associated Press reports that the city held a viewing of Black Panther at an outdoor amphitheater to honor the actor, who died last week at the age of 43 after battling colon cancer for four years in private. During the memorial service, artwork of the late actor was showcased while those who loved his work paid tribute to him with loving speeches. Deanna Brown-Thomas, the daughter of James Brown, called Boseman "the epitome of Black excellence." He had paid her and her family a visit in Augusta, Georgia shortly before he portrayed Brown in 2014's biopic, Get on Up.
"He wasn’t Hollywood, and that’s what I loved about him," she added, while Anderson's Mayor Terence Roberts also paid his respects. "You know, he was always reading and always trying to get better,” Roberts said. “So from a work ethic point of view, it just doesn’t happen overnight. He showed us that we’ve got to hone our skills and just persevere." The city's spokeswoman Beth Batson highlighted the inspiration Boseman was, explaining that young people from the community can look to him and say, "'What can I do, what can I be?'"
"Even though he plays these different people, I still see the person I knew as a child," said Boseman's childhood pastor, Samuel Neely. "When I see him, it’s almost like seeing my own child. He’s still Chad." While Boseman's immediate family did not appear at the tribute, Boseman's publicist Nicki Fioravante expressed her thanks to the community for the outpouring of love and support.
The memorial follows a petition that popped up shortly after his death, which called for a Confederate statute in the city to be replaced with a memorial to Boseman. So far, the petition has garnered over 68,000 signatures.