For producer Charles D. King, it’s “truly divine” to bring “Judas and the Black Messiah” to the screen at a time when its story is so relevant in contextualizing the current Black Lives Matter movement, especially when it comes to America’s reckoning with policing and the justice system. Watch our exclusive video interview with King above.
“Judas” tells the true story of Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya), the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party who was plotted against and ultimately assassinated by the FBI in 1969 when he was just 21-years-old. King only had “peripheral” knowledge of Hampton before making the film, which highlights “how he was building together and galvanizing a coalition of oppressed communities from all backgrounds in Chicago” and “how he still resonates even to this day.”
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, took place more than 50 years after Hampton’s execution, but reminded us of the disregard our institutions still have for Black lives, whether they’re trying to reform a corrupt system or just trying to live in it. These are themes “that [producer] Ryan Coogler, [writer-director] Shaka King and myself know because we’re Black men who’ve lived in this country our entire lives and we’ve had these experiences.”
King adds, “These are things that we know happen every day, and for the first time, while you’ve had millions of people here in our country as well as around the world who couldn’t move away from their television screens, this was captured for the world to see … and it was finally confronted.” So he hopes that by telling Hampton’s story to a wider audience and showing how our own government killed him for challenging our oppressive systems, “we can begin to heal the community and begin to really have some significant and real change.”
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