“You can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution”- 50 years later… these words made famous by Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton (played by Daniel Kaluuya) echo louder than ever. In Judas And The Black Messiah Shaka King paints the painful reality of revolution, a message we are all too familiar with today, as we continue to fight against police brutality and push for racial justice reform.
On December 4th, 1969 an eight month pregnant woman named Deborah Johnson watched as the Chicago Police busted into her apartment and shot her boyfriend dead as he laid next to her in bed. That man next to her was the young charismatic Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton.
Chairman Fred was forming the Rainbow Coalition at the time and inspiring a generation to rise up against oppression, which put him directly in the line of fire of the government, the FBI and the Chicago Police. J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) and the FBI saw the Panthers as a threat and their charming leader Hampton, a “messiah” that needed to be stopped. To destroy the revolution, they had to do it from both the outside…and the inside. The FBI as embodied by agent Roy Mitchell (played by Jesse Plemons) coerced a petty criminal named William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) to help them infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and gain intel on Hampton. With the help of O’Neal, the FBI and the Chicago Police finally were able to silence Fred Hampton, but they can’t silence the revolution.Chairman Fred Hampton was only 21 years old when he was assassinated by the Chicago Police.
HBCU Buzz Movie Night Screening:
On Thursday February 4th, HBCU Buzz hosted a virtual movie night screening of Judas And The Black Messiah followed by a cast Q+A and a virtual meet and greet. The cast Q+A was hosted by Southern University alum Van Lathan with Dominique Fishback (Deborah Johnson), Hampton University alum Darrell Britt-Gibson (Bobby Rush), Delta Sigma Theta member Dominique Thorne (Judy Harmon) and Algee Smith (Jake Winters).
The cast was open and honest about what it was like to be taken back to the environment of 1969 Chicago, and the weight they carried on set each day knowing the shoulders they stand on. As Darrel Britt-Gibson beautifully put it:
“We will never be able to repay the Panthers for what they did for us so trying to get it right every day and feeling that anything could be a misstep or just going back to the hotel…and thinking like is that going to make them proud or did I do that right?… That is a weight that I still carry and there are scars from this that will never go away.”
Van Lathan asked Dominique Thorne “How has Delta Sigma Theta molded you into the person that you are today?”
“Grit. Fortitude…Someone on set… actually use that word when speaking to me like something about your fortitude and it shook me for a moment. I’m okay. I’m where I need to be, I’m doing what I need to be doing. It was the same spirit of involvement and a sense of civil liberty that you as an individual must take on and you’re not going to leave it to anybody else that led me to join this group of women. So for me to feel that come back around, to feel that principle sneak its way…into this character and to hear someone actually say that without knowing anything about the fact that fortitude is like you know a foundational principle it meant everything.”
In light spirit Van asked the cast which HBCU they represent. Of course Hampton grad Darrell Britt-Gibson reps Hampton, while Dominique Fishback chose Lathan’s college Southern University, and both Dominique Thorne and Algee Smith chose Howard University.
Cast Meet And Greet:
As part of a social media giveaway, we offered students the opportunity to take part in a special virtual meet and greet with Algee Smith, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Dominique Thorne from the cast. 15 lucky winners were selected to take part in the zoom event which included a group Q&A, photo capture, and 1:1 conversations with each of the winners. This content was branded and delivered to winners to post via their personal social media.