"As famous as Chadwick was, he was so kind and thoughtful," Harris says of the late Black Panther star

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 02, 2020 02:09 PM
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Kamala Harris is continuing to honor the legacy of her late friend Chadwick Boseman.

After news broke of the Black Panther star's death on Friday following a private four-year treatment for colon cancer, countless celebrities and public figures hailed Boseman's impact, including Harris.

In fact, Boseman's final tweet shared prior to his death was a photo of him with the California senator, celebrating her selection as Joe Biden's running mate, becoming the first Black woman and first person of Asian descent to be named to either major party's presidential ticket.

Harris remembers Boseman — whom she bonded with on social justice issues and as another Howard University alumnus, after meeting through friends — as more than just a blockbuster movie star.

"As famous as Chadwick was, he was so kind and thoughtful. He was a listener and he was humble — but he walked with such magnificence," she says. "We're all going to miss him deeply."

"The man [Chadwick] had such dignity, and he gave people dignity. His life, short though it was, has had profound meaning," Harris adds. "Chadwick inspired people to see something in themselves, to see something in each other. Chadwick had the ability to see what can be unburdened by what has been. In that way, his legacy is strong and we will be talking about and thinking about Chadwick for generations to come."

• For more about Chadwick Boseman, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

The politician says Boseman — who secretly underwent cancer treatments while continuing to star in demanding film productions — had "an ability to be strong when he was silent."

"It speaks to the character of the man that he was," Harris says. "Chadwick was just a beautiful soul. He cared deeply. ... We share being part of the legacy of Howard University, and it was a point of pride for each of us."

During a 20/20 special that aired Sunday, Harris opened up about Boseman's role as the royal Black Panther — the first Black person to lead a Marvel film — and about his final tweet, celebrating her own recent history making.

“That his last tweet was to encourage people to exercise their right as citizens to vote, to participate in their democracy — born out of love of country — that’s so reflective of Chadwick," she said of the Aug. 11 post.

Of Boseman's major superhero role, she said: "It was a moment of collective celebration because of the story itself, but also because of Chadwick. The significance of it, the brilliance of it, the elegance of it — he did all of that.”

"He had this combination of being an old soul with the most incredible twinkle in his eye," Harris said on 20/20.

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Harris previously paid tribute to Boseman on Friday, that night sharing a photo similar to the one Boseman posted in his final tweet. The photo of the two was taken from the Families Belong Together – Freedom for Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall in June 2018.

"Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble,” Harris wrote at the time. “He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family."

On Saturday, Harris shared another photo from the same event, writing on Instagram: "From his groundbreaking work in Black Panther to his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall, Chadwick Boseman helped paint a new picture of what’s possible. Keeping his family, friends, and fans in my prayers during this difficult time."