Ron Stallworth, "BlacKkKlansman," and the Oscars

By: Jaclyn Eberting

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Ron Stallworth, the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department speak in Wait Chapel. Stallworth’s memoir was the inspiration behind Spike Lee’s film, “BlacKkKlansman.” Stallworth articulately spoke about the social and political challenges of being “the first” anything. He gave insight into his investigation of the Colorado Springs Ku Klux Klan as well as his reaction to his first-hand account being turned into a blockbuster film. Stallworth wanted the film to have an impact and to address a point that is at the forefront of discussion: the social and political divide against African Americans as well as other minority groups.

For my First Year Seminar, “Feminism and Film,” we watched “BlacKkKlansman.” This class has allowed me to view films from a different perspective and I have begun to apply what I am learning in the classroom to global issues. My favorite part about watching movies are the many stories, experiences, and ideas expressed creatively. In the past few years, Hollywood has done a better job at diversifying their films. The introduction of different actors, actresses, directors, and artists are shaping the film industry to be more inclusive to diversity. Movies such as “BlacKkKlansman” are sharing true, authentic stories, showing how real individuals have impacted our world and have called to action a change. That is why “BlacKkKlansman” has been my favorite movie to watch in my class so far. Maybe it’s the authenticity of the story or the emotional punch the movie packs. Whatever it is, I finished the movie frustrated at our nation’s culture, but also inspired to make a change. With the Oscars this past Sunday, I was pleased to see “BlacKkKlansman” had five nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supportive Actor, Best Original Score, and won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ron Stallworth and Spike Lee both share a similar desire for social and political change. At Wait Chapel, Ron Stallworth wanted students never to stand still when we have the power to change our society to be more inclusive. Stallworth noted that we have a voice to challenge leaders who have let us down. He claimed, “America doesn’t need to be made great again; we have always been and forever will be great.” On Sunday, in his acceptance speech, Spike Lee stated, “make the moral choice between love versus hate.” Both Stallworth and Lee emphasize the promotion of love and acceptance over hate.