Inspiration for Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ to lecture at URI

Ron Stallworth, Inspiration for Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ to lecture at URI

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Ron Stallworth
Ron Stallworth

KINGSTON, R.I., — Sept. 27, 2018 — The University of Rhode Island will host a lecture by the retired police officer and author who is the inspiration for the director Spike Lee’s hit movie “BlacKkKlansman” on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on the Kingston Campus.

Ron Stallworth, who wrote the 2014 memoir “Black Klansman,” was an African-American police officer who went undercover in the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the late 1970s. The 2018 film, which has grossed nearly $50 million since its August release, was inspired by his life and career.

Stallworth’s lecture is free and open to the public.

In 1979, Stallworth noticed a want ad in the newspaper looking for people who wanted to start a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs.

“I immediately formulated a strategy and it was to get a white officer, posing as me, to go meet this guy,” he told Business Insider. “When I set off to do this, it was simply to gather information on the Klan, who they are, what they are, how many there are.”

Stallworth had a white undercover officer pose as him during in-person meetings with the KKK. The officer wore a wireless body transmitter so the real Stallworth could listen in. The seven-month undercover operation prevented several planned cross burnings and revealed several people who were active Klan members.

Stallworth successfully infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan and almost became the head of the local chapter.

Spike Lee’s biographical comedy-drama is loosely based on Stallworth’s memoir. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth, Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace.

This press release was written by Josh Reyes, a public relations major and intern at the URI Department of Marketing and Communications.