Chadwick Boseman is on track to make box office history with the release of Black Panther, but the actor remembers a time when everything wasn’t so sweet. In a new interview with Mr. Porter, the actor detailed one of his first experiences with racism and being called a “n***r.”
As a little boy growing up in Anderson, South Carolina in the late 70s, Boseman reportedly experienced racism at firsthand. “It’s not hard to find in South Carolina. Going to high school, I’d see Confederate flags on trucks,” he said. “I know what it’s like to be a kid at an ice-cream shop when some little white kid calls you ‘n***r’, but your parents tell you to calm down because they know it could blow up. We even had trucks try to run us off the road.”
While he acknowledged that circumstances aren’t exactly the same as they were when he was a kid, he said that his hometown still as a long way to go. “When I was shooting Black Panther in Atlanta, I used to drive back on off-days to go see my family in Anderson. It’s about two hours. And I would see the Klan holding rallies in a Walmart car park,” he recalled. “So it’s like we’re going forwards and backwards at the same time. People don’t want to experience change, they just want to wake up and it’s different. But this—shooting Black Panther and then driving past the Klan—that’s what change feels like.”
In happier news however, Boseman, along with his glorious cast members are anxious for the theater doors to open. Although he has high hopes for the first-week stats, he said he still hesitates “to jump on that ‘Oh, it’s a movement’ thing. Because it depends on how it opens. I mean, it’s got to happen first, right? People need to show up and not bootleg it.”
So, show up and show out on Feb. 16, when Black Panther officially premieres in theaters nationwide.