Teaching with BlacKkKlansman

Posted by Speakeasy News > Thursday 30 August 2018 > Shine Bright Lycée Webpicks

Spike Lee's new film BlacKkKlansman is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a Colorado Springs policeman who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. This downloadable audio interview with Stallworth is excellent for listening comprehension.

The 13-minute interview is a downloadable podcast from the BBC World Service. It's very clear and extracts are understandable from B1.

Stallworth explains how he answered an advert in a newspaper offering information about the Klan, which led to the long infiltration investigation, as portrayed in the film (3:47-5:00).

The real Ron Stallworth (left) and Spike Lee (right).
The real Ron Stallworth (left) and Spike Lee (right).

Around 8:30 there's an interesting passage about Stallworth's conversations with KKK leader David Duke:
"When I started talking to David Duke, I said, 'Aren't you afraid of some smart Alec calling you up pretending to be white, so he could gain information about the Klan?' And he said, 'No, because I can always tell when I'm talking to one of THEM.' He said, 'Take you, for example, I can tell that you are a pure white man by the very fact of how you speak English.' So he said, 'Take the word 'are' — a-r-e. Educated white people like you and I, we pronounce it 'are'. But a black man would pronounce it 'ar-uh'.'"

In an even more astonishing incident, Stallworth describes being assigned to be the police officer providing security for Duke when he visited Colorado Springs (09:38-11:28)

All three of these incidents are dramatised, fairly faithfully, in the film. If pupils see the film, it would be interesting to have them compare Stallworth's spoken version with the way it was dramatised.

You'll find more on BlacKkKlansman in Shine Bright 1re File 8 "African-American Art".


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