Last week, it was announced Howard University would rename its College of Fine Arts after late alumnus Chadwick Boseman and the esteemed Ms. Phylicia Rashad was appointed its dean. According to TMZ, university president Wayne Frederick said the college is developing a masterclass that was actually conceived by Boseman prior to his passing, and Dean Rashad will be the one to head the masterclass.
The news is one more tale of Boseman’s charitableness and paying it forward. There also is symbolism with Rashad’s designation: she was one of Boseman’s mentors during his career at Howard, a fact she revealed during the ABC special Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute For A King.
Boseman was one of Rashad’s students who had auditioned for the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer program and was accepted. However, he and his fellow actors had to decline the invitation because they lacked the money for the program. But Rashad would not let her students miss this chance to showcase their talent. “I made a phone call to a friend of mine, and he called me back, and we talked about it for about five minutes, and he said, ‘Okay, I got this money,'” she said.
That friend of hers turned out to be Denzel Washington, whom Boseman lauded at the 47th AFI Lifetime Achievement in 2019.
“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” he said, retelling the story. “Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.”
“An offering from a sage and a king is more than silver and gold. It is a seed of hope, a bud of faith,” Boseman said of Washington’s gesture. “There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” Boseman said, leaving Washington visibly touched by his tribute. “And not just because of me, but my whole cast — that generation — stands on your shoulders.”
Details are still being fleshed out, says Fredrick, but the structure of coursework will introduce the students to actors who are currently in the industry as well as their standard curriculum. He asserts Boseman would have been heavily involved in the daily affairs and that he even has the signed paperwork from Boseman that outlined his vision.
“Chad fought to preserve the College of Fine Arts during his matriculation at Howard and remained dedicated to the fight throughout his career, and he would be overjoyed by this development,” Boseman’s family said in a statement when the CFA was renamed in his honor. “His time at Howard University helped shape both the man and the artist that he became, committed to truth, integrity and a determination to transform the world through the power of storytelling.”