Disneyland unveils moving tribute to Chadwick Boseman at Anaheim resort
On Thursday, a mural depicting Boseman, who died last month at age 43 after a battle with cancer, was revealed in the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. The mural shows Boseman doing the Wakanda salute alongside a young child wearing a hospital gown and a Black Panther mask. It was painted by Nikkolas Smith, an artist and former Disney Imagineer (the company's term for its theme park designers and engineers), who shared the artwork on his Instagram page after its unveiling.
"To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman," Smith wrote. "I am grateful to the Disney family for being so supportive of my journey as an artist. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way."
The post also includes a video of the mural being unveiled, and a touching photo of Smith in front of the artwork with his infant son. Smith noted as well that the project was "a full circle moment," as his final projects as an Imagineer were an interactive art experience at Houston's Texas Children’s Hospital and the upcoming Avengers Campus attraction for Disney's California Adventure Park.
The artwork references not just Boseman's role as Black Panther but his interaction with children fighting cancer while he himself was battling the illness. Photos of the actor's 2018 visit to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital resurfaced after his death, as did an emotional video in which he discussed trading letters with terminally ill kids who died before getting to see Black Panther.
"It's a humbling experience, because you're like, 'This can't mean that much to them,'" Boseman said at the time. "But seeing how the world has taken this on, how it's taken on a life of its own, I realize that they anticipated something great."