The Civil Rights movement is known for struggle, protesting, Angela Davis, great soul music and the ongoing underground existence of the Klu Klux Klan. As a college student in Columbia, Missouri, we were told to stay inside one weekend as the Klan marched past our dorm. I was like, really??!! The KKK is still a thing. Well, apparently they were still raging on when rookie cop Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) became the first African-American detective to serve at the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined not to be chained to his desk or be assigned to mundane tasks, he comes up with the brilliant idea to infiltrate and expose the Klan. Obviously, this would be difficult at best for anyone that the KKK doesn’t deem as “pure and white”. Enter Stallworth’s colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Flip agrees to go undercover and together they take down the Klu Klux Klan from the inside out.
Sounds like a story made up just for a Hollywood film right??!! Of course, it would take Jordan Peele and Spike Lee to bring us this true- life story in all its glory. Yes. In October 1978, Stallworth’s 2014 book BlacKkKlansman details his experience. His initial contact began by responding to a classified ad in the local newspaper. Some “brotherhood” members phoned back. When it came time to meet the Klan members face-to-face, he utilized the help of a white undercover narcotics officer, who posed as Stallworth for all in-person meetings with the Klan.”
In one scene, Ron declares that the United States would never elect a man like KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) president and yet that actually happened. If you thought the election of POTUS was divisive, BlacKkKlansman is either really going to wear folks out or become a ‘AHA” moment like “Get Out.”
This right here is one of my favorite moments ever and proves just why BlacKkKlansman took home the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival!!! When Stallworth is assigned to protect Duke during a visit to Colorado Springs, Stallworth request Duke take a picture “because no one will ever believe me when I tell them I was your bodyguard.” Then with Duke and the Grand Dragon of Colorado, Stallworth placed his arms around their shoulders at the last-minute. Just before his partner snapped the picture, Duke lunged for the picture, but Stallworth was “a split second faster” and got to the photo first. Duke attempted to reach toward Stallworth but Stallworth warned him, “If you touch me, I’ll arrest you for assault on a police officer. That’s worth about five years in prison. DON’T DO IT!” Duke, furious, stepped back. Of course, the photo has since been lost.
Terence Blanchard provides the perfect score which illustrates the edge and complexity of the era. Proving that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington turns in a stellar performance as Ron Stallworth, which is only complimented by his co-stars Adam Driver, Topher Grace and Laura Harrier.
BlacKkKlansman is the perfect movie for the perfect time and just goes to prove you never know who might be on the other end of that phone who will change your life for the better or the worse. Produced by Focus Features, BlacKkKlansman hits theaters near you on August 10.