Activist Fred Hampton was such a threat to white supremacists’ power structure, he was assassinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when he was only 21. Now Warner Bros. has released a trailer for “Judas And The Black Messiah,” a movie centered around betrayal and assassination of the iconic Black Panther Party leader.
In a press release about the film, Warner Bros. wrote the Black Panthers “were fighting for freedom, the power to determine the destiny of the Black community, and an end to police brutality and the slaughter of Black people.”
Sound familiar? In 2020, Black Americans are fighting the same issues. Its why Hampton’s legacy is still alive and well over 50 years after he was murdered. His impassioned mantra – “I am a revolutionary!” – still echoes today.
Hampton became the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the party in 1968 and was also the deputy chairman of the national organization. A year later he was dead, betrayed by William O’Neal – who infiltrated the BPP and earned Hampton’s trust in exchange for avoiding prison for a car theft charge.
The movie details Hampton’s rise to power and his tragic murder, which came as a result of O’Neal’s treachery. O’Neal is said to have been haunted by the role he played in Hampton’s death until he committed suicide in 1990.
News of the film’s production first broke last year under the tentative title “Jesus Was My Homeboy.” It is being produced by Ryan Coogler and Charles D. King; and was written by Will Berson and Shaka King, who is making his directorial debut with the film.
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The film “stars Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, according to a press release. While there has been some controversy over Kaluuya, who is British, being cast to play the Black American icon, King defended the decision.
“I’m well aware of the debate around British actors playing American Black, iconic figures,” King said during a panel attended by Variety. “But I was born in America, my family is Caribbean and I have a South African name so I am, literally, emblematic of a diasporic way of thinking.”
Hampton’s son, Fred Hampton Jr. worked as a consultant on the film. It is scheduled to be released in 2021.