By Fred Owens
Saturday and the beach was crowded, so we went to the afternoon movie, choosing BlackkKlansman.
I like Spike Lee's work, especially Do the Right Thing. You can interpret that 1989 film several different ways.
So it is with this new film, based on a true story, about how a black police detective infiltrated a Ku Klux Klan outfit in Colorado Springs in the 1970s.
I thought to myself that I have never met a genuine Klansman, but then I thought maybe I have. Maybe, when I was hitching rides around the country, and the guy picked me up, he seemed friendly enough, he sounded me out on various topics of conversation as we loafed along the highway at high speed -- maybe that guy was in the Klan. I mean, how would I know? It's not like he would tell me.
I never met Stokely Carmichael either. He was a true-to-life firebrand. He got a lot of press in those years -- Black Power! His speech before the black student union in Colorado Springs is a high point of the movie. I did meet Jesse Jackson back in 1966, and saw him daily for several weeks in the basement of the Mount Olive Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. Jackson wore a big Afro back then, like the Ron Stallworth character has in the current film.
You should go see this movie. It is a compelling film. It's not a documentary. but far from a work of fiction. Spike Lee doesn't make things up, he records what he sees and tells what he knows and does not qualify his language. Spike Lee lays it on pretty thick.
Not a small thing, but the sound track is wonderful. Plus there are a few scenes that are played for laughs. It's a more powerful drama that inserts a bit of humor, like the comic interludes in a tragedy by Shakespeare.
Almost the last scene is a re-enactment of the KKK burning cross ceremony -- a powerful image and most terrifying. Is it a real cross? Are those real flames and real Klansman in real robes? Who lit that fire?
Spike Lee closes the film with footage of last year's white nationalist march in Charlottesville. That was a one hundred percent real. And who lit that fire?