Actor Chad Boseman will deliver this year’s commencement speech at graduation for Howard University. “I’m excited to return to the Mecca in celebration of the achievements of our illustrious students,” Boseman said in a press release. “Let’s listen, learn and build with one another.” Howard’s president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, said it was an “honor and privilege” to welcome back Boseman, who is a graduate of the historically Black university. “His recent role in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther’ reminds us of the excellence found in the African diaspora and how places like Howard are hidden, untapped gems producing the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors,” Frederick said in the statement. “Mr. Boseman exemplifies the monumental heights and levels Howard graduates can achieve by using the skills and knowledge they acquired at the university.”
In February, while promoting “Black Panther,” Boseman told the Chicago Tribune that the essence of Wakanda, the film’s fictional Black utopia, exists at the HBCU. “It is a Wakanda to a certain degree. There is definitely a lot of T’Challa there,” he said. “If you have a blanketed idea of what it means to be of African descent and you go to Howard University, you’re meeting people from all over the diaspora — from the Caribbean, any country in Africa, in Europe. So you’re seeing people from all walks of life that look like you but they sound different.” Howard’s announcement comes just weeks after the HBCU dominated headlines because of a financial scandal. Shortly after a whistleblower posted a blog post accusing the school of mishandling student funds, Frederick announced that six university employees were fired for allegedly misappropriating financial aid money. Student activists sat in the school’s administration building for nine days before coming to an agreement with university officials.