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Spike Lee Takes on the Klan in his latest film, “BlacKkKlansman.” Lee uses the true story of a black police officer who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Colorado in the 1970s to once again grapple with American racial terrorism. Ron Stallworth’s book, Black Klansman” journals his experience as a rising member of a Colorado chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son, delivers a star performance as the lead actor in the film. To the surprise of many, this is not his first movie, but according to the box office, it will not be his last. The movie is a visual interpretation of a black man’s story and a candid conversation of truth. It is an alarm clock ringing in the midst of a historical nightmare. What has startled many is “BlacKkKlansman” is based on a true story.
This now-retired cop confessed that he went undercover in 1979 as a KKK member for a period of nine months in order to complete an investigation into the chapter. His exploration began when he responded to a newspaper ad by a newly established KKK group in search of members. When questioned about taking such a huge risk, Stallworth simply replied that it was his job.
The former Colorado Springs police sergeant handled most of his interactions with members over the phone. The rare times that a face-to-face meeting was necessary, his partner, a white detective would represent him. Within a year, the officer was not only offered membership but had earned enough trust that he was voted the leader of the chapter. The undercover cop even received a legit membership card which was signed by Grand Wizard David Duke who also confirmed how impressed the local chapter was with Stallworth’s work and loyalty.
During his tenure in law enforcement, the Klan exploration ranks as one of the most significant projects he was ever involved in. As a member, he was exposed to numerous intimidation activities including planned cross burnings. The undercover Klansman intervened at least three cross burnings. His proudest accomplishment during his investigation is that no child ever had to wake up to a burning cross.
After being offered a leadership role in the Klan, Stallworth stealthy relocated to Utah. After nearly two decades as an investigator, he retired from the Utah Department of Public Safety. Although he still carries his KKK membership card, he admits that he often felt victimized by minorities for posing as an angry and hateful racist.
For an in-depth account on how this black man became the leader of the KKK check out Lee’s most recent movie, “BlacKkKlansman” and Stallworth’s book titled “Black Klansman.” In this memoir Ron Stallworth speaks candidly about his experience and Lee’s movie complements the book with a visual interpretation.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Guardian Liberty Voice: How Did a Black Man Become Leader of the KKK?
NewsOne: Meet The Black Cop Who Went Undercover As A KKK Member
Deseret News: Black sergeant was ‘loyal Klansman’
New York Times: Spike Lee Takes on the Klan
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Melody Joy Kramer’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License