Tennessee Tribune Staff

While people around the world are reeling from the loss of iconic actor Chadwick Boseman, James Shaw Jr., who is best known as the hero who unarmed a shooter bearing an AR-15 at a Waffle House in Nashville, is reflecting on his iconic moment shared with the Black Panther star.

Boseman, who died Friday, August 28, shared the stage with Shaw Jr. during the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. During the broadcast, Boseman won the MTV Movie Award for “Best Superhero,” for his role in Black Panther and graciously gave his award to Shaw.

“The moment itself spoke volumes about his grace,” Shaw Jr. said. “He had this warrior spirit about himself and unfortunately we lost a legend.”

Shaw Jr. learned about Boseman’s death on Instagram and later posted photos from the historic night and expressed his love and respect for Boseman.

“From one Black man to another, I appreciate the words of advice, the award, and the sharing of your spotlight,” Shaw Jr. said in his post. “We salute, respect and Love you King, not T’Challa the character… but Chadwick Boseman the Man.”

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther was the first superhero movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and one of the highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in over $1 billion.

Black Panther became more than a movie, morphing into a celebration of Black culture, art, history, achievement and intellect in addition to highlighting the Black cultural presence and influence in comic book culture.

“There is a photo of two little boys holding a Black Panther action figure. I had to wait 30 years to see an African American superhero of that magnitude,” Shaw Jr. said. “Somebody has to carry the torch. Hopefully somebody will carry it with the dignity that he did.”

A statement released by his family said Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016 and the disease progressed to stage 4. Boseman endured countless surgeries and treatments as he continued to make films from Marshall (directed by Reginald Hudlin), Da 5 Bloods (directed by Spike Lee) and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (directed by George C. Wolfe and produced by Denzel Washington).

“I would like to send prayers to his family,” Shaw Jr. said. “I gracefully appreciate that moment that he shared with me and hope they can find peace in his passing.”

Boseman was no stranger to playing iconic characters, bursting onto the big screen in 2013’s 42 as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Boseman went on to star as Soul legend James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall in 2017.