How Chadwick Boseman Helped Create The 'Wakanda Forever' Salute

Boseman was behind the "Black Panther" symbol, which sparked a movement.

The salute from “Black Panther” has stretched far beyond the borders of Wakanda, showing up everywhere from schoolyards to “Saturday Night Live” and becoming a symbol to celebrate Black excellence. Now, when words aren’t enough in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s tragic death, it’s becoming a silent tribute to a person who’s touched countless lives.

The move, which involves crossing your right arm over your left, was created by both Boseman, who played T’Challa in the Marvel film, and “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler in rehearsal, producer Nate Moore told HuffPost in 2018.

“There weren’t a ton of variations. It sort of just seems to make intuitive sense,” Moore said.

Coogler reportedly explained the origins of the symbol on the director’s commentary for the “Black Panther” Blu-ray, saying it took inspiration from Egypt, West African sculptures and American Sign Language.

Chadwick Boseman at the Los Angeles World Premiere of "Black Panther."
Chadwick Boseman at the Los Angeles World Premiere of "Black Panther."
Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images

“We kinda got it from the pharaohs and the West African sculptures that you’ll see, with the arms folded over like that. It also means a ‘hug’ or ‘love’ in ASL, American Sign Language,” Coogler said, according to Inverse.

Likewise, Boseman recalled the symbol’s ancient beginnings on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” explaining Coogler had come up to him saying they needed a way for the Dora Milaje, the “Black Panther” all-female bodyguards, to salute him.

“We had been talking about these sort of poses that have ancient meanings, and so this was sort of like an Egyptian pharaoh,” said Boseman, adding that it can have different uses, like a fighting stance.

Not everyone was on board from the start, however.

“I think the first time they did it was in tribal council, and part of me was like, ‘Is that going to look cool?’” Moore told HuffPost in the 2018 interview. ”‘Is that going to be cool or are people going to reject it?’”

But the producer explained the more the symbol was used, “the more it sort of almost felt like it had always been,” and was “so natural and so a part of the fabric of the movie.”

Chadwick Boseman arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards.
Chadwick Boseman arrives for the 90th Annual Academy Awards.
VALERIE MACON via Getty Images

Moore said, “Chadwick ― I think, because he developed it with Ryan ― owns it. Everything Chadwick does just feels real, so by the end of [the film shoot], extras were doing it, crew members were doing it to each other. Everyone was doing and that’s when you know, OK, this is something that’s going to resonate.”

Because of Chadwick Boseman, Wakanda is forever.


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