One of the screenwriters of the recent Spike Lee movie “BlacKkKlansman” and the African-American police officer who inspired the film will be the featured speakers at the Metropolitan Community College Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon.
Ron Stallworth, as an African-American police detective in the late 1970s, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white officer. He later wrote a memoir about the experience that was adapted for the 2018 Spike Lee movie “BlacKkKlansman.”
Kevin Willmott, a University of Kansas film professor who is also a filmmaker (“C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America”), penned the screenplay with Lee and two others.
“Hearing the stories and perspectives of these two men at a single event promises to be a powerful and unique experience,” MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty says.
Tickets are now available. The single-ticket price of $85 includes a copy of Stallworth’s book.
To buy tickets or learn more, go to mcckc.edu/mlkluncheon. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available. The event is a fundraiser for student scholarships.
An MCC in-district student taking 12 credit hours will pay $1,236 for tuition and about $600 for books.
“That’s a full semester of college for less than $2,000, but it is still out of reach for many,” says honorary MLK event chair David L. Disney. “More than half of our students struggle with financial hardships that can impact whether they start or stay in school, which directly impacts their ability to improve their livelihoods and become productive community citizens.”
The scholarship luncheon is presented by the Metropolitan Community College Foundation and MCC’s Office of Inclusion and Engagement.
Here’s more about the 2019 featured speakers:
Ron Stallworth wrote the memoir “Black Klansman: Race, Hate and the Investigation of a Lifetime.” The book recounts how Stallworth, the first black detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s. It details how he, with the help of a white officer, fooled local Klan organizers and Klan Grand Wizard David Duke as they monitored the group’s activity.
The book, first published in 2014, was made into a film directed by Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman,” released in August 2018. Lee co-wrote the comedy-drama with filmmaker, playwright and University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott and two others.
Stallworth was born in Chicago and raised in El Paso, Texas. His 32-year law enforcement career included serving on the Colorado Springs Police Department and as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He is now retired.
Kevin Willmott co-wrote the movie “BlacKkKlansman” with director Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz. The film, which won the Grand Prix award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, tells the real-life story of how black police officer Ron Stallworth infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. Stallworth and a white officer monitored Klan activity during a seven-month investigation.
Willmott, a professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas, also wrote the play “Becoming Martin.” Its focus is 15-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. and his experiences as a student at Morehouse College. “Becoming Martin” had its world premiere this fall at Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre, which is celebrating its 40th season.
He has worked as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless, and forcing the integration of several longstanding segregated institutions.
Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas, and received a B.A. in drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. He earned his M.F.A. in dramatic writing at New York University.