By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) — In 1978, Ron Stallworth was a 25-year-old cop, Colorado Springs’ first black officer, when he decided he’d try to infiltrate a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan by responding to a newspaper ad.
“I couldn’t believe they were so blatant and that they would be so dumb and their stupidity would lead to this investigation,” says Stallworth.
He would go on to write about his experience in his book ‘Black Klansman’, which is now a critically acclaimed movie directed and produced by Academy Award winners by Spike Lee and Jordan Peele, respectively.
The film is hailed as one of Lee’s finest in his illustrative career and after winning the Grand Prix award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Oscars may be next.
On Monday, Stallworth returned to Colorado for a screening of the film at Denver’s Alamo Draft House. He sat down with CBS 4’s Stan Bush to discuss the movie, its message, and how its themes are more relevant today.
“I’m happy with everything in the film. I knew they would Hollywood-ize it,” says Stallworth.
Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, plays Stallworth.
Lee took some liberty with the film; adding a love interest for Stallworth and changing the names and backgrounds of some of the supporting characters, including Stallworth’s partner Flip, portrayed by Star Wars actor Adam Driver. But, despite the changes Stallworth says the film is true to his experience.
“It is authentic. The basic issues are there. They spiced it up for plot.”
BlacKkKlansman is an overtly political film. In the film, Lee draws a straight line from the rise of the KKK to the Unite the Right protests in Charlottesville and President Trump’s response noting there were “good people on both sides.”
Stallworth says he’s been given a powerful platform through the film and wants to use it for political activism. He wants Democrats to regain control of Congress in the mid-term elections and hopes the film encourages people to vote.
“My very existence has had political implications,” says Stallworth. “When I was brought on (to CSPD) I was asked ‘Can you be the Jackie Robinson here?’”
Stallworth calls the film Spike Lee’s finest. The retired officer is now on a national press tour for the movie and his book that inspired the film. If the Academy of Motion Pictures does recognize BlacKkKlansman, Stallworth hopes to be on hand for the ceremony.
“This is way above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m just a retired cop with a unique story.”