CHADWICK Boseman's family will be given the final say on what a hometown statue honoring the star will look like – as 185,000 fans have signed a petition, The Sun can exclusively reveal.
The 42-year-old actor, who died following a private long battle with cancer last month, is set to be remembered in Anderson, South Carolina, with a permanent tribute which will hopefully replace a confederate monument, and the original petitioner wants his family involved.
Thousands have already signed the Change.Org petition, started by Anderson University graduate DeAndre Weaver, to remove a Confederate monument in the heart of the town and replace it with a statue of Boseman.
"It's a conversation between the city and his family as to what they want it to look like," DeAndre told The Sun in an exclusive interview.
"I have not had the opportunity to reach out yet, I've been trying to give them space in this time of bereavement.
"But I think it's very important that they have input in this, and it is their final call.
"We don't want to do anything to his legacy that his family wouldn't approve of.
"I've heard a lot of suggestions of sculptures and murals. If it's something that the family's happy with and the city can do feasibly I'm happy with it."
The city is already getting to work fast on planning the tribute, and The Sun understands an artist has been contacted, although they have come across red tape when it comes to removing the monument.
In his petition, DeAndre explained: "Earlier this year efforts were made by local residents to remove a Confederate monument located in the town square of downtown Anderson.
"Unfortunately, this effort gained no traction due to current South Carolina law.
"It is currently illegal to remove or alter monuments dedicated to confederate war efforts in the state of South Carolina, (SECTION 10-1-165). This has made any effort to remove the statue impossible."
But DeAndre is positive it could be worked out and Mayor Terence Robertsis already on the case, although it would require a two-thirds vote from the state legislature.
"I hope we can bring everyone to the table, and that we can have a discussion and find a solution," DeAndre told The Sun.
"Of course we want to honor Mr Boseman, and have the Confederate statue removed, but it's a lot more complicated than saying, 'We want this.'"
That petition notes that Boseman, who was born in Anderson and graduated from T.L. Hanna High School, rented out a theater when Black Panther was released to allow children to watch it for free.
"Mr. Boseman is without question an American treasure and his accolades go on and on," it reads.
"It is only fitting that his work is honored in the same place that birthed him."
DeAndre, the first black BFA acting major from Anderson University, described Boseman as a "role model" for youngsters in the town.
"Ironically, where the Confederate monument is placed in the town is right across from one of our classrooms," he said.
"For the people of Anderson, and the future students of the University, it would be better to have someone looking down on them who saw them as equal.
A spokesperson for the city said: "The statue is on county property, but under the state's purview.
"City of Anderson Mayor Roberts is open to working with the county and state to find a path going forward for the monument.
"Right now, our town is grieving the loss of a native son. We feel that it's appropriate that our hearts and minds are focused now on grieving the loss of Chadwick Boseman."
They added: "I can also tell you that there is no doubt that we will put together a permanent and public and fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman. We will do it in world class fashion. We're gonna do it right."
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