BLACK KLANSMAN: Spike Lee and Jordan Peele's Thriller Will Address Contemporary Anxieties
Earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League published a report revealing that the Ku Klux Klan had 33 active chapters operating across the United States. A few months ago, we saw them take to the streets in Charlottesville with members of the alt-right carrying their tiki torches, which resulted in riots and the murder of a protester. Even in 2017, there are still people out there propagating the idea of a white ethno-state.
Therefore, there couldn’t be a more relevant time than the present to develop a project like Black Klansman, Spike Lee’s upcoming social thriller that’s being co-produced by Get Out director Jordan Peele. The film is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, gained membership, and spearheaded to the top of a local chapter’s ranks.
Recently, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins has signed on to play former Black Panther leader Carmichael, also known as Kwame Ture. He joins Ballers star John David Washington (as Stallworth) and Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Laura Harrier, along with Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3). That’s an impressive list of names right there.
Stallworth's story is a compelling one. He was originally accepted into the Klan after sending them a letter containing several racist diatribes about minority groups and how they were polluting America. When it came to attending meetings, he would send a white colleague to pose as him. The Klan didn't notice the voice differences; in fact, they trusted him so much that he even served as the bodyguard to the Grand Wizard himself, David Duke.
Prior to becoming a high ranking member of the KKK, Stallworth made history by becoming the first ever African American cop in Colorado Springs. He decided to become a narc because he didn’t like uniforms, and his first undercover event saw him attending a rally headlined by Black Panthers leader and activist Stoker Carmichael, also known as Kwame Ture. Carmichael, despite being considered a threat to law enforcement, was an enigmatic figure whose rhetoric spoke to Stallworth in many ways. But that’s understandable given the prejudice the detective faced as a black man during a period where racial tensions were at boiling point.
When you look at the current state of the nation, parallels can be drawn to that era. Whether it's the Charlottesville situation, stories of police officers shooting unarmed African Americans, or the rise in hate crimes since Trump's election, Black Klansman will undoubtedly magnify contemporary anxieties in the United States.
This is shaping up to be a very enticing project. In addition to the stellar cast, the film is being Spike Lee and Jordan Peele have a proven pedigree dealing with race-related subject matter. The current sociopolitical climate might be divided, but this is the type of movie that’s bound to resonate profoundly during these testing times.