Disney kicked off its big fan event, D23 Expo 2022, by honoring Disney Legends. These are artists who’ve made special contributions to its theme parks, films and TV shows. And because we make everything better, three special Black legends were given their well deserved flowers.
Black-ish stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross were recognized for their eight season run on the ABC comedy as Rainbow and Dre Johnson. With his usual showmanship turned up to 11, Anderson took the stage to thank Ross for being such a great partner, as well as his family for inspiring and encouraging his big dreams.
“Disney has always been a part of my life, my upbringing, my rearing, my childhood, it informed me and allowed me to be the entertainer and the man that I am today,” Anderson said. “So to stand here, as a legend, is an honor.”
“Disney has taught all of us to dream and to dream big. It’s been said that if your dreams don’t frighten you, you’re not dreaming big enough,” he added. “I hope that I stand before you as an example of what hard work, determination, dedication, sacrifice and dreams are all about.”
Anthony was followed on stage by his TV wife Tracee Ellis Ross, whose reception was a little louder than his. Sorry, it is what it is. As a video saluting her work played, almost everyone around was talking about how much they love her.
Her speech was extremely empowering, as she touted how great it was to highlight such an amazing Black woman for eight seasons. She also wanted everyone to know that “Space Mountain is still the one,” when it comes to rides.
“It’s wonderful to be named a legend for my work as Bow Johnson and for my contribution to this show that truly changed the landscape of modern primetime television. To spend eight years on a show that not only entertained, but generated so much cultural value was an honor,” she said. “For me a legend is someone whose work makes more space for others. To be more free, more safe, and hopefully, for the world to be more just.”
“The world’s view of Black women is not elastic in its ability to see us expansively and to see our joy. So it does feel legendary to have intentionally inhabited the selfhood of Bow Johnson. Not just her motherhood, or her jobhood or her wifehood, but the fullness of a woman thriving with all of those parts. And it feels also really legendary to have built and advocated for and breathed life into a joyful Black woman for eight years on a great show. I really hope that the space that Rainbow Johnson created is an invitation for creation of more Black women-centered stories that reflect the truth and diversity of who we are in the world.”
After a video package encompassing Chadwick Boseman’s work as T’Challa from Captain America: Civil War through his final performance on What If…?, the ceremony concluded with its most emotional presentation as his brother, Derek Boseman, accepted on his behalf. With their whole family present, the preacher went into a sermon to describe the honor and loyalty of his sibling.
“When I heard Disney wanted to honor Chad, the first word that came to mind for me was the word honor. I looked it up and the dictionary simply said…honor is a good name. And since I’m a preacher, I went to the scripture, where it says that ‘a good name is relatively chosen, then great riches, and loving favor, rather than silver and gold,’” he said. “As I think about my brother, and this honor that’s being bestowed upon him, first of all, I wish that he was here to receive it. Him not being here has been a point of immense pain for my whole family. But as I think about him, I think about how he honored our parents. How he honored his family. Chad was an amazing person and him being honored today is no surprise to me. Because he spent his life from childhood until today always being recognized.”
“To me, you and daddy are also legend, because it takes a king and a queen to raise a king,” Boseman said.