A&O to host ‘BlacKkKlansman’ screenwriter, real life progratonist to campus


Source: David Lee/Focus Features

John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth in “BlacKkKlansman.”

Gabby Birenbaum, Campus Editor

A&O Productions and the Contemporary Thought Speaker Series will host the screenwriter and author of “BlacKkKlansman,” a memoir adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, for a screening and conversation May 19.

Ron Stallworth, the memoir author and protagonist of the film, and Kevin Willmott, the screenwriter whose script won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, will discuss the events of the book and film in a moderated conversation with Charles Whitaker, the interim dean of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The event will be held in the Ryan Auditorium of the Technological Institute.

“BlacKkKlansman,” which was co-written and directed by Spike Lee and received six Oscar nominations and one win, is based on Stallworth’s memoir about his time undercover in a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and as the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Played by John David Washington in the film, Washington’s Stallworth and Adam Driver’s character, a white police officer, work together to collect information — Stallworth spoke to Klan leaders on the phone while the white officer appeared in person.

In the film, Washington’s Stallworth speaks at length on the phone with Grand Wizard David Duke, successfully convincing Duke he was speaking to a white supremacist rather than a black police officer. As part of the climax of the film, Stallworth is assigned to protect Duke as his police escort when he has a speaking engagement in Colorado Springs, while Driver’s character must pretend to be the man Duke has been speaking to on the phone, putting all three in the same room.

Stallworth’s book, “Black Klansman: A Memoir,” became the basis for Lee’s film.

“While speaking as himself to Klan members over the phone, Ron helped sabotage cross burnings, expose white supremacists in the military, and combat domestic terrorism,” A&O’s release said. “Even more incredibly, Ron also befriended (and fooled) Grand Wizard David Duke.”

Wilmott, a film professor at Kansas University, co-wrote “BlacKkKlansman” with Lee, who he’d collaborated with before.

An hour-long conversation discussion will follow the film screening.

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