The time Chadwick Boseman returned to his alma mater to give an unforgettable speech.

Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman returned to the school to deliver its commencement address.

Speaking to Howard's class of 2018, Boseman channeled his inner T'Challa for an engaging, inspiring half hour filled with bits of wisdom for students and onlookers alike.

"When you have reached the Hilltop, and you are deciding on next steps, you would rather find purpose than a career," the 2000 graduate said, referencing the school's nickname. "Purpose is an essential element of you that crosses disciplines."


A lot of his speech for the school's 150th commencement ceremony was standard fare for a graduation, with inspiring quotes about the importance of failure and perseverance on the path to success.

"Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is." GIFs from WUSA/YouTube.

It was the portion of the speech about activism, however, that served as the true highlight.

He spent several minutes thanking the students for challenging the institution.

In March 2018, students staged an occupation of the school's administration building, a protest that ultimately lasted nine days. It was incredibly successful — their work forced the school to revamp its sexual assault policy, to agree to more oversight on future tuition increases and the role of police on campus, to establish an on-campus food bank, and more.

Howard University students rally against sexual assault in April 2016. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

"You could have been disgruntled and transferred, but you fought to be participants in making this institution the best that it can be," Boseman said.

Their demonstration illustrates why protests (and the right to protest) matter so much.

It's important not to forget who benefits from protest — not just the people demonstrating but everyone who comes after.

Members of the graduating class won't directly benefit from the concessions they won from administrators. But future generations of students will, and that makes it worthwhile. Protest is anything but selfish.

"Those that follow most often enjoy the results of the progress you gain."

"Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those that come after."

"Many of you will leave Howard and enter systems and institutions that have a history of discrimination and marginalization," said Boseman. "The fact that you have struggled with this university that you love is a sign that you can use your education to improve the world that you're entering."

His acknowledgement that people can love the person or institution they're protesting strikes at one of the most pervasive myths about activism: that if you protest something, it's because you hate it. People protest institutions because they believe in them, because they see potential for growth, and because they care enough to invest energy in it. This fact often gets lost in discussions around activism.

Naturally, Boseman closed his address with a nod to "Black Panther," doing the "Wakanda forever" salute while saying "Howard forever."

"Howard forever!"

Watch Boseman's speech below.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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