The opening text of Spike Lee’s latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” informs the viewer in its opening text sequence: “Dis joint is based upon some fo’ real, fo’ real shit.” While it’s hard to believe the story of Ron Stallworth, the black undercover detective who orchestrated a full investigation of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970’s, many of the events depicted in the highly stylized film are, in fact, true.
Stallworth’s memoir, “Black Klansman,” details his infiltration of the Colorado hate group and the strange machinations it took to insert himself so deep in their ranks, all while maintaining secrecy. While Lee’s latest flick, which is already being hailed as a "masterpiece" by Rolling Stone, takes some liberties with the source material, much of Stallworth’s actual tale is as harrowing as the movie makes it seem.
Here are the five most shocking parts of the movie which actually happened in real life.
1.The KKK never noticed the difference between Ron’s voice over the phone and in person
As depicted in the film, Stallworth made deep connections in the KKK by conversing with local chapter members in a handful of phone conversations and then sending a white undercover officer — identified in real life only by the pseudonym "Chuck" — for in-person communications. Although the Jewish character Flip Zimmerman was invented for the movie, according to Bustle, it is true that the group never questioned the obvious difference in tone and sound between the two peoples' voices.
“Only once in the entire seven months of the investigation was I ever challenged as to why my voice sounded different than Chuck’s,” Stallworth told Vice. “Chuck had gone to a meeting I set up, and later that day, as I thought about something that had been said at that meeting, I got on the phone and called Ken [O’dell], the local organizer. I started talking to him as if I’d been at the meeting, but he said, ‘You sound different, what’s the matter?’ I coughed a couple times and said I had a sinus infection. And he said, ‘Oh, I get those all the time. Here’s what you need to do to take care of that.’”
2. Chatting with David Duke
David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who recently re-emerged in national headlines for his support of President Donald Trump, is a main character in "BlacKkKlansman." In the film, Stallworth accidentally makes contact with the white supremacist leader while attempting to speed up his membership process, quickly establishing a feigned rapport.
In real life, Duke and Stallworth did actually have friendly communications and during the investigation they spoke about twice a week.
"He’d go on and explain all their plans, bragging and boasting and feeding me information," writes Stallworth in his memoir. "Sometimes my conversations with David Duke were light, personal discussions about his wife, Chloe, and their children. How they were doing and what was going on in their lives. He always responded with cordial enthusiasm like the proud and loving husband and father he was ... As a matter of fact, when you took away the topic of white supremacy and KKK nonsense from discourse with Duke, he was a very pleasant conversationalist.”
And the scene with Stallworth being assigned to protect Duke? Also true. Although, unfortunately, the Polaroid photo from the event was lost long ago.
"I haven't seen the picture in over 40 years,"Stallworth said to The Chicago Tribune. "If I had known I would write a book, I would have taken good care of it."
3. Two KKK Members really did work for NORAD
As Stallworth delves deeper into the KKK, two shadowy figures who lurked in the background of some meetings were revealed to have deeper connections to the United States government. While it's hard to believe that racism had so deeply infested some of our country's most important organizations, that part of the movie is also based on fact.
In Stallworth's memoir, he explains that at one point during his inquiry he was contacted by two agents from the the Peterson Air Force Base Office of Special Investigations, who asked him to share his list of KKK contacts. Two of those contacts happened to have top security clearance with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, according to The Wrap.
4. The investigation began with a classified ad
In the film, Stallworth's journey into neo-Nazism begins after feeling frustrated about being assigned to investigate the Black Power movement with a call to a classified ad from the KKK looking for new members. After dialing a number and getting an answering machine, Stallworth leaves a message — and immediately gets a call back.
That's not 100% how it went down, but that's basically what happened. According to the LA Times, the call back from the KKK came weeks later, not moments. Stallworth launched into a slur-laden tirade, saying he hated anyone without “pure white Aryan blood in their veins.” And voila, he was in.
"I told him my sister had been dating a n-- and every time he put his filthy black hands on her pure white body it made me cringe, and I wanted to do something to stop those things from happening," Stallworth told the The Chicago Tribune. "I had to formulate a plan real quick. I told him I couldn't meet him now. We agreed to meet a week later. I started putting things in motion, getting a white officer to pose as me for this face-to-face meeting."
5. There was a bomb plot
The film's climax occurs when a Klansman's wife detonates a bomb at a young activist's house. While no such explosion actually occurred, Stallworth's investigation did potentially thwart a similar incident — and perhaps something worse.
"They talked about bombing the two gay bars," Stallworth said to The Chicago Tribune. "But they didn't. We stopped two Klansmen whose job in the military was to deal with explosives from carrying out a threat to bomb. They talked about stealing automatic weapons from Fort Carson Army base to stock in preparation for a race war. We gained valuable intelligence."
[Photo: Screenshot via YouTube]
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