Ron Stallworth is Colorado Springs’ first African American police officer. Setting out to prove his worth, he contacts the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and enlists the help of his white Jewish fellow police officer to pose as himself. The story details how Stallworth was able to gain the trust of the largely influential Grand Wizard David Ernest Duke and stifle the growing resurgence of the group.Read more
The theatrical release of BlacKkKlansman strategically coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally. White nationalists and supremacists gathered on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of a Confederate general, Robert E. Lee and the renaming of the Robert E. Lee Park into Emancipation Park.
In the morning of August 12, white nationalist protestors and counter-protestors butted heads, inciting violence that Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. More violence ensued when a white nationalist protestor rammed his car onto counter-protestors, killing a 32-year-old woman. Tensions regarding racial discrimination in the United States continues to mount, with critics largely attributing the attitude of current American president Donald Trump towards race issues.
The arrival of Spike Lee’s new film fits right into the current political climate in America. Even its premiere during the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally – an event that sparks outrageous memories of white supremacists – can be seen as a deliberate action to shake society in its core.
BlacKkKlansman tells the story of the impossible – a black police officer infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan and even befriends the then-grand wizard of KKK. But it’s true. It happened in the 1970s to Ron Stallworth. But the movie doesn’t deliver the age-old tale of black people trying to stick it to the white supremacists in a stern and serious manner. Lee cleverly intersperses comedy within the movie – an element that effectively resonates with general audiences. Serious delivery on thought-provoking issues like racism and oppression might be well and good but make its delivery to the audience entertaining and they’ll leave the theatre with a renewed sense of understanding on pressing matters.
There were in-your-face scenes, like when Lee ended the film with scenes from the 2017 Charlottesville rally that left one dead, many injured, and shook the nation with anger from both sides. The story is an imagined re-telling of Stallworth’s escapades a black man masquerading as a white supremacist, which in itself already offers a disconnect with viewers who were not present during the events of the 1970s, but the director brings you back around with memories of something that happened only a year before, and still continues to be around even long after the crowds have dispersed. There might be contention from purists that art should just be for art’s sake, no politics, but how are we to move forward as peoples if we cannot learn and enjoy and be enlightened and awakened at the same time?
BlacKkKlansman is the 2018 biographical film about Ron Stallworth, the first African American police officer in Colorado Springs who successfully infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan chapter during the 1970s. The film is directed by Spike Lee (She’s Gotta Have It), adapting the story from the 2014 memoir of the real-life Ron Stallworth, “Black Klansman”. John David Washington takes on the role of Stallworth, with Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Laura Harrier (Spiderman: Homecoming), and Topher Grace (That ‘70s Show).
It had its first premier during the Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2018, where it won the Grand Prix. BlacKkKlansman was eventually released in theaters on August 10, 2018, to praises for its performances and timely themes. The film has earned Best Picture nominations from the Critics Choice Awards and the Academy Awards, as well as Best Director for Lee, and Best Supporting Actor for Driver.