Listen: The True Local Story Behind Spike Lee's New Film, 'BlacKkKlansman'

Aug 10, 2018

Colorado Springs plays a leading role in a new film by director Spike Lee, which opens in theaters this weekend. 

BlacKkKlansman tells the story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. 

The film, which NPR film critic Bob Mondello called Spike Lee's "most ferociously entertaining (and just plain ferocious) film in years," has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, earning a 98% "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes. In May, it was awarded the Grand Prix Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, one of the festival's top honors. 

Left, the Wish We Were Here Logo. Right, a photo of Ron Stallworth in his CSPD uniform.
Credit 91.5 KRCC, Ron Stallworth

Back in the summer of 2015, long before production began on BlacKkKlansman, 91.5 KRCC told the story of Ron Stallworth on our documentary podcast Wish We Were Here. Producers Jake Brownell and Noel Black spoke at length with Stallworth, who recounted his experience breaking racial barriers in the city's police force, going undercover at a Stokely Carmichael rally, and becoming a "card-carrying member" of the KKK.

The episode, "CSPD Black: The True Story Of Colorado Springs' First African American Detective," was released in August, 2015, and was later featured on the CBC show Podcast Playlist.

Before you catch the film, take some time to familiarize yourself with the local history on which it's based!