A half century ago, the Ku Klux Klan’s power stretched from coast to coast, and members of the hooded hate group carried out firebombing attacks, lynching’s, and murdered civil rights workers in the South.
Despite the Ku Klux Klan’s haunting history, one black police sergeant risked his life to go undercover as a “Black Klansman.”
In 1979, Colorado Springs police investigator Ron Stallworth called the number from a local newspaper ad on a whim in the hopes of gathering information. What he didn’t expect was to be offered a membership, and eventually an invitation (in a unanimous vote) to lead the local KKK chapter for being perceived as a “loyal and dedicated” member of the notorious organization.
Throughout almost a year as an undercover member, Stallworth corresponded with the Klan leadership regularly on the phone, posing as an angry racist, he explained he felt victimized by minorities and sprinkled his speech with racial slurs. When his physical presence was required, he would send a fellow white detective in his place, a friend and narcotic detective Stallworth said he liked to call “the white Ron Stallworth.”
Stallworth also had the opportunity of speaking to former grand wizard David Duke, whose signature was on Stallworth’s official KKK code of conduct card. Once Duke boasted about how his Klan would never be infiltrated by a black man under his watch. Stallworth asked why, with Duke responding, “I can always tell when I’m talking to a black man because they pronounce words and letters a certain way. He told Stallworth that he could tell that “You’re a pure-blooded white man, because you don’t pronounce your words in that manner.” Stallworth started pronouncing those words in that manner just to play with him.
Through gaining the trust of local hate group’s leaders, who told him of planned cross burnings and other intimidation activities, he was able to foil at least three cross burnings during his time with the organization by being able to tip off police as to where and when they were occurring.
In 2014, Stallworth put pen to paper and authored his activities in the memoir Black Klansman.
Actor/director Spike Lee and Jordan Peele have teamed up to begin shooting a major motion picture of the crime thriller. HBO Ballers co-star John David Washington will appear as Stallworth.
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